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Antrim quarry to become £9.5m recreation area for adrenaline junkies

By David Young

The UK's longest zip line and an Olympic standard BMX bike track are set to transform a derelict quarry into a paradise for adrenaline junkies.

Northern Ireland's first permanent bungee jump platform is also among the attractions proposed for a £9.5 million outdoor recreation area on the former cement works at Magheramorne on the shores of Larne Lough.

The plan is part of the wider £100m blueprint to transform the 153-hectare site into an environmentally friendly harbour village.

As well as around 450 homes the quarry will host restaurants, shops, a community centre, a hotel, a harbour-side tourist point with viewing tower and boating facilities

While the regeneration project was announced by the Government last year, a feasibility study has now outlined what visitors can look forward to in the recreation area — a facility that could inject £1.5m into the local economy each year.

A centrepiece will be an expansive bike park that could potentially incorporate seven downhill trails from an easy ‘blue’ grade through to the extreme ‘double-black’ trails, totalling over six miles.

As well as the 400-metre Olympic track, there is also space for a 13-mile cross-country circuit and a full mountain biking skills area.

The study, which was conducted by the Countryside Access and Activities Network (CAAN), also outlined proposals for a range of adrenaline activities including the zip line, and high ropes course as well as a man-made abseiling tower.

A proposed scuba diving centre is also planned for the waterfront area.

Clare Wright from CAAN said: “The main attraction on the site will be Magheramorne Bike Park.

“This will have an array of cross-country and mountain bike trails with designated areas for lots of other cycling disciplines, a cycling arena and a services hub including provision for a cafe, cycle shop, changing facilities and bike wash.”

Developer Lafarge Cement UK is due to start construction work at Magheramorne next year.

The company's rating and regeneration manager Lloyd McInally said: “We welcome this study which firmly backs the Magheramorne site as having the potential to be a fantastic mountain biking and other sporting activities venue.

“We look forward to continuing our work with CAAN to progress plans for this as part of our overall aims for the whole site.”

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