Belfast Telegraph

Exploris aquarium closure decision delayed by Ards Borough Council

Rebecca Black

Ards Borough Council is expected to delay the closure of Northern Ireland's only aquarium for the third time this week.

Exploris has been under threat since last September, when the council voted to close and dispose of the facility, arguing it was costing too much money to maintain.

However, they allowed two months for supporters of the centre in Portaferry to find alternative funding to keep it open.

In November they voted again to allow two months to find funding. And last Wednesday evening the development committee of the council agreed to recommend to delay the closure of Exploris for another month to allow Stormont further time to make an offer of funding.

Exploris costs about £1m a year to run.

Deputy Mayor of Ards, Philip Smith, told the Belfast Telegraph the council has prepared a business case, which it submitted to a number of government departments at Stormont.

Environment Minister Mark Durkan last year said he was willing to fund the seal sanctuary and part-fund the main aquarium. However, it is not known if any other departments will stump up the cash to partner this offer.

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