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Northern Ireland Environment Link Logo
 

News

 

Events

 

Oct 2014 right left

  
01
02

Heritage Practice in Contested Spaces

Friday 3rd October
Waterman House, 5–33 Hill Street, Belfast, BT1 2LA
Free

Autumn Plant Fair at Rowallane Garden

Saturday 4th October
Rowallane Garden
Normal Admission, Members Free

Autumn Fair at Mount Stewart

Saturday 4th October
Mount Stewart
Normal Admission, Members Free

Harvest and Country Fair

Saturday 4th October
Springhill, Moneymore
Normal Admission, Members Free, Additional charge for Scarecrow Trail.

Laurel Clearance

Sunday 5th October
Saintfield Estate near Saintfield
Free

Silver Sunday –at Enniskillen Castle Museums

Sunday 5th October
Enniskillen Castles Museum
Free

06
07

SEUPB Environmental Conference 2014

Wednesday 8th October
Crowne Plaza Hotel, Dundalk
Free

BRICK Workshop 05

Thursday 9th October
East Belfast Network Centre, 55 Templemore Avenue, Belfast, BT5 4FP
£15.00

10

The Magical Imagineer

Saturday 11th October
Enniskillen Castles Museum
Normal Admission Charges Apply

Remarkable Trees of Minnowburn

Saturday 11th October
Minnowburn
No Charge, Donations Welcome

Taming Nature

Saturday 11th October
Murlough NNR
No Charge, Donations Welcome

Red Squirrel Day

Saturday 11th October
Mount Stewart
Normal Admission, Members Free, Red squirrel activities – adult £3, child £1.50

Make a Bird Table or Feeder

Saturday 11th October
Carnfunncok Country Park
£2.75 per adult, £2.25 per child

Autumn Festival at Crawfordsburn Country Park

Sunday 12th October
Crawfordsburn Country Park
Free

Apple Press Day

Sunday 12th October
Ardress House
Normal Admission, Members Free

Nature Scavenger Hunt

Sunday 12th October
Carnfunncok Country Park
£2.00 per sheet

13
14
15
16
17

Autumn Pumpkinfest and Scarecrow Pageant

Saturday 18th October
Castle Ward
Normal Admission, Members Free

Ghost and Gourds Weekend

Saturday 18th October
Rowallane Garden
Normal Admission, Members Free

Seed Gathering Saturday

Saturday 18th October
Bashfordsland Wood & Oakfield Glen. Carrickfergus,(Meeting at Red Fort Park / Bradford Heights entrance)
Free

Fungal Walk

Sunday 19th October
Carnfunncok Country Park
Free

20
21

Joint Links 2014 Conference

Wednesday 22nd October
Beardmore Conference Centre, Glasgow
£30 – £45

Nocturnal Nature Tour

Thursday 23rd October
Crom, Co–Fermanagh
Adult £10, Child £5

Storytelling by the Fire

Friday 24th October
Florence Court
Adult £15

Coastal Walk at Kearney

Saturday 25th October
Ards Peninsula
Adult £3, Child £1.50

Pumpkins and Potions

Saturday 25th October
The Argory, Moy
Normal Admission, Members Free

Haunted Hezlett

Saturday 25th October
Downhill Demesne and Hezlett House
Adult £6, and Child £6

Hallowe’en Fest and Craft Fair

Sunday 26th October
Florence Court
Normal Admission, Members Free

Autumn Walk

Sunday 26th October
Murlough NNR
No Charge, Donations Welcome

Mini Haunted Hezlett

Sunday 26th October
Downhill Demesne and Hezlett House
Adult £5, Child £5

Spooky Halloween Treasure Haunt

Sunday 26th October
Carnfunncok Country Park
£2.00 per treasure haunt

The Emergence and Spread of Modern Humans

Monday 27th October
Elmwood Building, Queens University
Free

28
29

Mexican Day of the Dead

Thursday 30th October
Giant’s Causeway
Normal Admission, Members Free

Halloween Extravaganza

Friday 31st October
Enniskillen Castle Museums
Tickets £3.50 per adult/ child/senior & student. Under 2’s go free. Group ticket for 5 admissions – £15.00.

Hallowe’en at The Festival of Light

Friday 31st October
Mount Stewart
Adult £10, Child £7.50, Family £30

Weekends in November – Festival of Light

Friday 31st October
Mount Stewart
Adult £10, Child £7.50, Family £30

 
NIAF NIAF
EEF NIAF
Climate Northern Ireland NIAF
 

£8m fine from Europe Closer 16 March 2012

Northern Ireland taxpayers have moved closer to footing a £8m fine from Europe.

It is over the failure to protect a key habitat in Strangford Lough – beds or reefs of horse mussels.

Two government departments had promised Europe we would protect the mussels back in 2006 and narrowly escaped a fine.

But since then, little has been done and on Thursday the EU started down the road of legal proceedings.

In a few month’s time, unless they can persuade the European Commission otherwise, the Departments of Environment and Agriculture will find themselves in the European courts, charged with breaching European directives.

Strangford Lough is an area of special scientific interest (ASSI), a special area of conservation (SAC) and a marine nature reserve.

It is one of the most protected areas of Europe, in theory. But in reality there has been little protection put in place.

It was discovered around 2000 that a number of the mussel beds were damaged and dead. With over 100 other species relying on the reefs formed by the mussels deep on the seabed as their habitat, the situation became critical.

Following a formal complaint to Europe, fines were only avoided because Europe was promised that the mussels would be protected and restored. That was in 2006, but it never happened.

Formal warning

Using Freedom of Information legislation, the BBC obtained emails sent between the Department of Environment and the Department of Agriculture. In one email a department official revealed “… if the commission asked what progress has been made, the departments will be exposed…”

In another email it was admitted that if Europe discovered what they had not done, “the commission would hang us out to dry”. But still little was done.

When it was apparent that little had been achieved, the Ulster Wildlife Trust made a second complaint to Europe last November. The European Commission has now written formally to the two government departments.

It has raised concerns over the protection of the remaining mussels, the management of activities on the lough and the restoration of the reefs.

Unless the departments can persuade the European Commission otherwise, they could face a fine of at least £8m plus a fine of tens of thousands of euros for every day the problem persists. And they have only weeks to make their case following the formal warning they have just received from the commission.

“Our response must be decisive,” said environment minister Alex Attwood.

“We need to demonstrate that the horse mussel reef issue is being conclusively addressed. We have until May this year to convince the EU that any deterioration is being addressed, beyond which infraction awaits.”

The BBC understands that Mr Attwood has meet with senior EU officials in Northern Ireland and Brussels to try and reassure the commission.

Clock ticking

But it will be the Department of Agriculture who will have to do the lion’s share of the reassuring. Only they can introduce the necessary protection required by Europe and it needs to be done immediately.

Agriculture Minister Michelle O’Neill said that she is disappointed with the commission’s interpretation of the situation.

“I am determined to develop a response which fully matches our responsibility under the Habitats Directive,” she said.

“I have undertaken to meet fishermen in the near future to discuss options with them and officials from both departments will be working hard together to develop a satisfactory management regime for the future.”

But that may not satisfy Europe. They have made it clear that at this late stage they are looking specific action, not options. With just a few weeks until the May deadline there is little time for more discussions.

Heather Thompson, chief executive of the Ulster Wildlife Trust, who made the latest complaint, told the BBC: “We hope that the action taken by the European Commission will force our government to take its environmental governance role seriously and ensure the appropriate management of Strangford Lough.

“The Ulster Wildlife Trust now urges our politicians to do what is needed to fulfil our European legal obligations and stave off potentially costly infraction fines.”

The departments have just 10 weeks to salvage the situation and the clock is ticking.