Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 2 September 2014

The Maze

There's been a lot of talk about the legacy of the past at the Maze prison site - but part of that legacy is going to cost us just over £3m.

The First and deputy First Ministers have revealed that work on the site has cost £3.08m up to December 31 - the bulk of that on remediation of contaminated land.

Not only has the site housed a prison for many years, it has also been home to an Army base and a Second World War US Airforce base - and those uses have left their mark in the soil itself.

Ongoing work has revealed a litany of nasties - lead shot, aviation fuel and petrol spills, hydrocarbons and asbestos.

These all have to be removed from the site in accordance with health and safety requirements.

If the Balmoral Show relocates to the site, as the organisers hope, it may not be the healthiest environment for Ireland's finest livestock - or for humans visiting the 'conflict transformation centre'. Which is why this work is crucial.

Initial work was completed at the site in 2008 to remove lead shot from the former shooting ranges.

Michael Boyd, of consultants WYG, which is working the remediation, says it is essential brownfield sites like the Maze are developed to make best use of previously-developed land while providing an area that people can enjoy for years to come.

Some £430,000 has been spent on professional advice and detailed design work on site and access infrastructure.

It has cost another £310,000 for the Maze Long Kesh Programme Development Unit to direct the development of the site and its management, including feasibility, site condition, related studies and surveys and programme management.

Another £150,000 has been spent by the Department of Finance and Personnel on professional fees for procurement and legal advice on procurement issues, supervision of works, general advice on construction and project management. It has cost £140,000 to pay for security guards at the site, along with general maintenance and utilities, such as water and electricity, and £50,000 for preparing business cases for the development.

Plans for a shared multi-sports stadium have now been shelved, but OFMDFM has published plans for extensive redevelopment, including retention of the hospital, where IRA hunger-strikers died in 1981, along with a 'conflict transformation centre', which has come under criticism from unionists.

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