|Alderman Muir at Cairn Wood|
I have welcomed consultation commenced by Ards and North Down Borough Council which could see over a quarter of a million pounds invested into Cairn Wood Forest.
The proposed works would involve seating, wayfinding, information panels, improved entrance, extension to the current car park plus development of a wildflower meadow alongside improvements and expansion of walking trails and possible creation of a separate family cycle and mountain bike trails
After leading the campaign to Save Cairn Wood which saw thousands of people taking action and successful in their efforts to keep the Forest in public hands I was delighted to learn earlier this year that public ownership transferred from NI Water to the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA) on 1 April 2019.
News now received that DAERA could fund up to 75% of £275,000 investment into the Forest by end of March 2020 under their Tackling Rural Poverty and Social Isolation Scheme to cover Phase One of works is welcome news for such a much loved asset which risked being sold off to the highest bidder only a few years ago.
With sign off due soon of the Memorandum of Understanding and Licence with Council to develop and operate the paths and Forest generally and consultation now commenced on proposed works a much brighter future seems to be the horizon for Cairn Wood.
I would encourage everyone with an interest in the future of the forest to engage with the consultation either online or by attending the public meeting scheduled for next week to ensure all views at captured and a clear plan developed which attracts the widest possible support as together we build a brighter, greener and sustainable future for the Forest.
More details on the consultation including the Public Consultation Event on Tuesday 20 August 2pm to 7pm at Ards Leisure Centre can be found at https://www.ardsandnorthdown.gov.uk/about-the-council/consultations/outdoor-recreation-scheme-proposed-for-cairn-wood