‘Super council’ sets out conservation plan

Helen Thompson (NIEA), Councillor Martin Wilson (Mayor of Larne), Councillor Audrey Wales (Mayor of Ballymena) and school children from Cairncastle PS at the launch of the Mid and East Antrim Local Biodiversity Action Plan at Ballygally Hall. INLT 53-678-CON
Helen Thompson (NIEA), Councillor Martin Wilson (Mayor of Larne), Councillor Audrey Wales (Mayor of Ballymena) and school children from Cairncastle PS at the launch of the Mid and East Antrim Local Biodiversity Action Plan at Ballygally Hall. INLT 53-678-CON
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Mid and East Antrim Council has launched its Local Biodiversity Action Plan, marking what will be a key landmark for conservation in the region.

The plan was presented at Ballygally Hall by the mayors of the three council areas of Larne, Carrick and Ballymena – which will merge to form the new ‘super council’ on April 1 – and is considered an important step in furthering conservation of the rich biodiversity heritage that exists in the area.

The document sets out how the biodiversity resource within the region can be protected and enhanced for the benefit of all and for future generations.

The formation of a biodiversity plan has now increased importance, given the fact that councils are taking on significant new responsibilities that impact on biodiversity including planning, urban regeneration and community development. Their role has recently been formalised in the Wildlife and Natural Environment Act (Northern Ireland) 2011, which introduced a statutory duty for public bodies to further the conservation of biodiversity.

Ballymena, Carrickfergus and Larne Councils are committed to the protection and enhancement of biodiversity and the wider environment.

This commitment is underpinned by the development of this Action Plan, and the document will raise awareness of special flora and fauna, provide a framework for local action and encourage wider involvement and partnership working.

Councillor Martin Wilson, Mayor of Larne Borough Council said: “We are delighted to launch this document as it sets out a framework to undertake practical conservation work, and to raise awareness of the wealth of wildlife and special places that exist in this region.”

Stressing the importance of partnerships Alderman Charles Johnston, Mayor of Carrickfergus, added: “The Mid and East Antrim Local Biodiversity Action Plan will enable all lead partners - including council, government and non-government agencies and community groups - to continue to work together to deliver biodiversity benefits throughout Mid and East Antrim area.”