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‘No movement’ on alternatives to £44m Mournes Gateway gondola project

Councillors voices concerns at lack of alternatives during Mournes Gateway project board meeting

A council pledge to seek alternatives to the £44m Mournes Gateway gondola project has “offered no movement” as objectors fear the plans will “devastate” the natural environment.

Newry, Mourne and Down District Council (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.

A council officer had previously told the chamber a proposal to seek an alternative would be on the table of the Mourne Gateway project board meeting on Friday Oct 6.

However, Mournes Alliance rep, Jill Truesdale who attended the project board meeting, has reacted with “disappointment” to the board’s lack of alternatives to the gondola project.

She said: “The project board offered no movement for alternative options to the gondola and I was disappointed that I was the only member to provide alternative options despite the approved motion in June.

“The project chairperson opened the floor and the attention of the chair and senior management was directed to me.

“I responded: ‘Are you seriously asking me for alternatives? That is not my job, it was a motion passed in council for council to come up with alternatives’.

“Senior management responded that the project board had decided on the gondola and visitors centre and an OBC (outline business case) had been prepared and passed to that effect, they were happy with their decision, stating that alternatives to the gondola was something (Alliance) Cllr Andrew McMurray had raised.”

Cllr Truesdale added: “The current gateway project with a gondola will devastate our natural and beautiful mountain environment and I will continue to campaign for alternative options.”

The project board, which involves councillors from all parties, key stakeholders and council officers is the key body that makes recommendations to councillors regarding the progress of the Mourne Gateway project.

The Local Democracy Service contacted NMDDC for comment, though none was provided at the time of going to print.

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