Press Release - Publication of National Park "shortlist" highlights need for wide stakeholder engagement on future governance
2nd July 2012
Publication of National Park “shortlist” highlights need for wide stakeholder engagement on future governance.
The announcement of the three areas being considered for National Park status reiterates Environment Minister Alex Attwood’s determination to bring parks to Northern Ireland – and also places more urgency on the conversation about how such areas will be managed in the future, the National Beef Association says.
NBA Northern Ireland remains worried about the introduction of National Parks to the province, but having been personally told by Minister Attwood of his determination to push them through, feels the fight needs to focus firmly on the details, and specifically the shape of the new governance body (referred to as a National Park Authority in other areas of the UK).
NBA NI is concerned that too few farmer stakeholder groups are being involved in this process, especially given the number of consultation responses placed with the Department of Environment before Christmas.
Oisin Murnion, NBA NI Chairman, says: “Our members in these three areas are seriously concerned about the restraints that may be placed on them if their farms end up being in one of these new National Parks.
“Many farmers question if Northern Ireland really needs Park status to promote the beautiful landscape we have but, knowing Minister Attwood’s determination on this, we must do everything we can to ensure the power of the governance body is reasonable and does not interfere with the ability of farmers to be efficient and profitable.
“We only have to look across the water to England to see the huge power National Park Authorities have and the ability they have to force farmers to operate in a time-warp. The planning rules in particular concern us.”
In a one-on-one meeting, Minister Attwood assured NBA NI that the NI equivalent of a National Park Authority would be very different, but the NBA remains concerned that not enough is being done to engage stakeholders on exactly how the authority would work and what powers it would have. This is particularly true of the beef and sheep groups, which represent the majority of farmers that will be affected by the parks.
Mr Murnion says: “The legislation enabling the establishment of parks is coming – the announcement of the Mournes, Causeway Coast and Fermanagh Lakelands’ shortlist makes that clear – and we must ensure from the very beginning that legislation does not give the National Park Authority disproportionate power or place a stranglehold on future development.
“The Department of Environment outlined five governance options in its consultation document and these really need further discussion now, with wide stakeholder engagement and open debate.”
For more information contact:-
Oisin Murnion NBA NI Chairman Tel: 07739 632048
Joanne Pugh NBA Assistant Director Tel: 07579 009648