07/11/2001

Conference discusses Ulster’s environmental heritage

Environmentalists have been discussing the merits of Northern Ireland’s conservation areas at a conference organised by the Department of Environment in County Down this week.

Launching the conference in Newcastle Department of Environment (DoE) Minister, Sam Foster said: “Conservation Areas are without doubt the jewels in the crown of our built environment. In Northern Ireland we are fortunate to inherit the built heritage that has been handed to us by our predecessors. We have a rich legacy of fine city and townscapes, of villages with their own distinctive Ulster character, and of individual buildings. We can be justly proud of this. With archaeological sites and monuments, they are the pages of a living history of the development of our region.

“However, protection alone, while important, is not enough. Without a positive role for the buildings in Conservation Areas and for the settlements in which they occur, their future remains at risk.”

Since 1998, the DoE has provided significant support to the Townscape Heritage Initiative introduced by the Heritage Lottery Fund. The Initiative is focused on Conservation Areas, and aims, in partnership with the public, private and voluntary sectors, to secure the long-term future of the built heritage.

The DoE has the responsibility for stewardship of the built heritage and has over the years put in place legislative provisions in order to protect buildings and areas of character and historical interest.

Individual buildings of architectural and historic interest are protected by listing, and there are now over 8,000 listed buildings throughout Northern Ireland. (AMcE)

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