19/05/2002

Causeway and Belfast top agenda during National Trust visit

The National Trust's ongoing campaign to protect the landscape of the Giant's Causeway and its work with community groups in Belfast will be on the agenda when the charity's governing Council visits Northern Ireland this week.

The visit is the 52-member Council's first to Northern Ireland since 1991, and will provide Council members with a detailed update on key projects currently being undertaken by the National Trust in the region.

High on the agenda is the National Trust's commitment to ensuring the protection of the landscape setting of the Giant's Causeway.

Council members will visit the Causeway, Northern Ireland's only World Heritage Site, on Thursday June 20 where they will be briefed on the Trust's concerns about potential piecemeal developments on the fringes of the site.

Members of Council will also be updated on the situation regarding new visitor facilities to replace the Giant's Causeway Visitor Centre, which was largely destroyed by fire two years ago. In a bid to take the project forward as quickly as possible, the National Trust has proposed that a partnership be forged between the Trust, Moyle District Council and central government.

Commenting on the Northern Ireland visit, Charles Nunneley, Chairman of the National Trust, said the charity's work on the North Coast, at Mount Stewart and in Belfast signified the National Trust's ongoing investment in and commitment to Northern Ireland. He added: "We recognise therefore that we have a very significant role to play in protecting the region's environment, landscape and heritage, but more than that, we want to ensure that the many historic properties and scenic landscapes in our care can be enjoyed by everyone."

The charity has recently embarked on an initiative to develop closer links with inner city groups from both sides of the community. Council members will visit the Colin Glen Regional Park, which adjoins the National Trust-owned Upper Collin Glen, as well as Divis Mountain, where they will learn about the Trust's work with community groups to consider ways of improving public access to the "green lungs" of countryside surrounding Belfast.

Earlier this year the charity opened a new £1.5m visitor complex at Mount Stewart and the Council members will be visiting the facilities and experiencing first hand the delights of the new Bay Restaurant, interactive exhibitions and the new contemporary retail outlet. (MB)


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