£3.4m tourism boost for Binevenagh area
An area of outstanding natural beauty on the north coast has been given a major cash injection.
The Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) has announced that the Causeway Coast and Glens Heritage Trust (CCGHT) will receive £3.4m over the next five years to initiate the Binevenagh and Coastal Lowlands Landscape Partnership Scheme.
An initial £200,000 over 18 months will allow the CCGHT to establish the new partnership from January next year. Three staff will run a new office from January next year, and two additional staff are planned for when the project gets overall approval in 2019, to promote the area's natural heritage, which includes six internationally-recognised habitats and 10 sites of national significance.
CCGHT chairman Bill Harpur said: "This provides a wonderful opportunity for employment and economic development in the area. I'm confident the scheme will have the same positive impact and benefits as have been achieved in Co Antrim through the Heart of the Glens LPS, again supported by HLF."
The project will also place a focus on outdoor recreation and the rich history of the area, which has strong links to the Napoleonic Wars, both World Wars, the Cold War and the Troubles.
The project has been brought together by a wealth of stakeholders including Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council, the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (NIEA and Forest Service), the Department for Communities, the Ministry of Defence, the Department of Justice (HMP Magilligan), the Education Authority (Magilligan Field Centre), Loughs Agency and the National Trust.
Announcing the award, head of HLF Northern Ireland Paul Mullan, said: "Binevenagh and the Coastal Lowlands is an area of breathtaking natural beauty, rich cultural heritage and untapped potential.
"We were impressed with these exciting proposals that put people right at the heart of this outstanding landscape, helping them to get involved in its future management, protection and use."
Andrew Bratton, CCGHT project manager, added: "This is fantastic news and a great opportunity for the Binevenagh area and for the people living, working or visiting there.
"This area of Northern Ireland has been bypassed in terms of heritage research, investment and promotion.
"The funding from the HLF will provide an opportunity for everyone to explore and enjoy the spectacular landscape."