Private Causeway Centre could threaten World Heritage Status
North Antrim Sinn Féin MLA Daithí McKay has said that the UNESCO mission report on the Giant's Causeway must be taken into account if the site is to retain its World Heritage Status.
The report states that a number of potential threats exist to the World Heritage Status 'including development proposals, which could threaten the values and the integrity of the site'.
Mr McKay has also challenged the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Investment Nigel Dodds to say what he intends to do if the private proposal for a Visitors Centre is turned down by the Planning Service.
Mr McKay said:
"In its mission report in 2003, UNESCO, the group responsible for nominating World Heritage Status on the Giant's Causeway, clearly states that a number of potential threats exist which could result in the loss of World Heritage Status 'including development proposals, which could threaten the values and the integrity of the site'.
"It's conclusion also says that "the mission team urges all responsible bodies to proceed with the establishment of a small visitor centre at the entrance of the site (at the current location without extension)'.
"If the proposal for the private development on a green-field site is given the green light then it will undoubtedly threaten the Causeway's World Heritage Status.
"The report states that 'World Heritage has to be seen in the regional context and can provide benefits for local communities and visitors alike'. Given local opposition to the private proposal and the significant benefits for the local community and local ratepayers that will be lost if it gets the go ahead then this could also result in the loss of World Heritage Status.
"These concerns must be taken into consideration before the private proposal is processed further. It was very alarming to hear the Minister for Enterprise, Trade & Investment state conclusively that the 'Government will no longer be the developer of a new visitors' centre' given that the private application has not yet been passed.
"Nigel Dodds must state now, not later, what he plans to do if the private application does not get the go-ahead. He should in no way assume that the private application has been passed as it hasn't been." ENDS