Other News In Brief

UFU: Poultry Farmers Must Tighten Biosecurity Protocols

The Ulster Farmers' Union (UFU) is urging poultry farmers to be vigilant and to ensure that heightened biosecurity protocols are in place following reports of a potential notifiable disease at a broiler breeder farm in Co Fermanagh.

UFU deputy president, David Brown said: "The UFU are aware of the ongoing investigation and are monitoring the situation closely as we await test results. In the meantime, it is vital that all poultry and backyard keepers are vigilant. I urge them to review their biosecurity measures and business continuity plans immediately to protect their own flock and help safeguard the NI poultry industry."

The UFU encourages producers to implement a number of heightened biosecurity protocols and to avail of DAERA's services.

Mr Brown added: "Maintaining high levels of biosecurity and practicing good farm hygiene at all times is essential to reduce the risk of infection in poultry. This includes minimising all movement in and out of bird enclosures, cleaning footwear before and after visiting birds, keeping your farm clean and tidy, regularly disinfecting hard surfaces, ensuring that rats and mice are controlled, keeping food and water in confined areas away from wild birds, and where possible keeping birds separate from wildlife using suitable fencing."

Poultry keepers should also make themselves familiar with DAERA's guidance on good biosecurity. A text alert system has been established to send out immediate notifications if there is a disease outbreak.

"It is important that producers make use of all the help and services that are available to them to protect their poultry business and if they have any suspicion of disease in their flock, they should contact their vet or local divisional veterinary office immediately," concluded Mr Brown.

To subscribe to the text alert service, text BIRDS to 67300.

Restored NI Executive To Invest Urgently In Wastewater Infrastructure

The new draft deal which looks to restore power sharing in Northern Ireland has pledged an urgent investment in wastewater infrastructure.

Parties are meeting today, 10 January, in the hopes of agreeing to the 'New Decade, New Approach' proposal to get Stormont up and running again.

NI Water Chairman Dr Len O'Hagan has welcomed the draft deal and highlighted the importance placed on transforming public services.
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"NI Water's latest strategy has identified the need to invest £2.5bn to begin addressing historic underinvestment," Dr O'Hagan said. "In Belfast alone, £1bn is required to tackle wastewater, flooding and drainage problems within the 'Living with Water Programme'. Without investment in critical water infrastructure across Northern Ireland, it will not be possible to deliver other priorities in the draft deal in areas such as housing, city deals or developing our tourism sector.

"I further welcome the commitment to 'Leaner Government'. This has the potential to deliver greater efficiencies in our sector and create better value for the public purse. The pledge to multi-year funding and the news that there will be a review of Arm's Length Bodies is also a positive step.

"NI Water stands ready to ensure that Northern Ireland can fulfil its potential to have a cleaner, greener and more prosperous future. Restoration of devolved government and political direction, if underpinned by the required levels of funding, will ensure this will happen."

£1m Greenway Approved In Strabane

Plans for a new 3.5km greenway in Strabane, Co Tyrone, have taken a major step forward.

The proposal for a £1m cycling and walking route was given the green light at a recent meeting of Derry City and Strabane District Council's Planning Committee.

The route will connect the A5, Derry Road, Canal Basin, River Mourne Flood Wall and Strabane Retail Park. It will also form a key section of the overall Strabane-Lifford greenway which is part of the North West Greenway Network project, which will see the District connected with Buncrana, Lifford and Muff.

Proposals also include amendments to existing road kerb alignments, new road markings and signage, drainage, hard and soft landscaping, new path lighting and adjustments to existing road lighting and boundary treatments.

Welcoming the project, Chair of Derry City and Strabane District Council Planning Committee, Councillor Christopher Jackson said: "The completed project will offer cyclists and walkers a wider, safer and more user friendly experience and can play a key role in encouraging the public to get out into the fresh air and reap the health and wellbeing benefits of physical activity.

"It will also provide an incentive for more local people to choose active travel which will have a positive impact on the environment by reducing congestion and fuel emissions."

The project, which has been in development for three years, is highlighted as a key capital project in Council's Strategic Growth Plan. Funding has been provided through the INTERREG VA programme managed by the Special EU Programmes Body (SEUPB). Match-funding is provided by the Department for Communities, Department for Infrastructure in Northern Ireland and the Department for Transport, Tourism and Sport in Ireland.

The Council will now to look to appoint a construction firm to take on the project with the hope of reaching completion some time in 2020.


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