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Alternative to £44m Mournes Gateway gondola to be considered

Mournes gateway

A proposal to seek an alternative to the multi-million pound Mournes Gateway development is to be presented to the project board this Friday (October 6).

A proposed £44 million visitor centre at the disused Thomas Quarry in the Mournes would see visitors ferried into the heart of the Co Down mountains using a gondola lift system.

However, concerns were raised during a Newry, Mourne and Down District Council (NMDDC) meeting this week, when it was highlighted that a proposal for alternative ideas to the gondola, had appeared to have been “left off” minutes put before the chamber to be ratified.

Slieve Croob Alliance rep, Andrew McMurray, said: “Regarding the Mournes Gateway, I wouldn’t be one for making points like this really at council, but on this occasion I feel like I must, considering the genesis of the motion was one that I raised regarding this issue.

“To me it is not very clear from the minutes, as to the course of action being taken on two matters.

“The mention is made to take on a robust consultation with residents and I think this needs to be followed through, certainly with a two way process.

“Secondly, the development of alternatives, which seems to have been left off the noting side of this paper.

“I propose that the stakeholder engagement should include a facilitated two way consultation process with residents in a robust manner, rather than just a drop your comments in the box.

“And secondly an agenda item considering an alternative should be included at the forth coming Mourne Gateway project (board meeting).”

NMDDC is seeking a £30m investment from the Belfast Region City Deal with the local authority putting up the remaining cash to fulfil the major tourism project.

The Alliance elected reps are looking for an alternative to the gondola due to environmental concerns.

A council officer responded: “The agenda item, I will include the proposal for alternatives on to the agenda for the upcoming Mourne Gateway project board meeting this Friday.

“And the stakeholder engagement strategy will also be presented as an agenda item to the board for their acceptance.”

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