From launching a public petition – which gathered almost 3,000 signatures to date – meeting with the Minister and raising the issue consistently at Ards and North Down Borough Council, Councillor Muir said he was “delighted” the sale of Ballysallagh Upper reservoir and the adjacent land at Cairn Wood forest had been put on hold.
He said: “At the beginning of this campaign, those who wanted to prevent the sale of Cairn Wood Forest and the surrounding land said we would not just stand by and allow it to take place. I am delighted the Minister has finally listened, taken on-board the views of the thousands of people who signed the petition and made this decision, despite her initially informing us she could do nothing about the issue.
“Coming a few hours after I met with her to discuss the issue, I want to say thank you to everyone who got involved and helped make this campaign one she had to option but to listen to.
“The campaign is however not over. We now need the option of a sale to the highest bidder to be permanently removed, full details on proposed transfer to Forest Service and the area kept in its natural tranquil state.
“Information provided by the Forest Service stating: ‘The land already makes a considerable contribution to public recreation in the area, and the business case will need to establish the role of recreational partner providers in line with the well-established partnership approach adopted elsewhere with local councils’ needs further clarification without delay in order to avoid any concerns that the tranquil nature of the site may be lost.
“Alliance will be seeking a meeting with the DARD Minister as soon as possible to discuss the next steps.”