Infrastructure Minister Nichola Mallon has visited Divis and the Black Mountain today to view new road safety measures which are now in place.
Seven new passing places at intervals along Divis Road will permit visitors to pull into the side of the road, to better manage two way traffic flow and ensure that local residents can freely access their homes during busy periods.
Visiting the site Minister Mallon said: “I announced my intention to introduce these passing places just a few weeks ago and I am delighted that they have now come into operation.
“Divis and Black Mountain is a beautiful area to exercise and to enjoy nature, however, as visitors we must be respectful of local residents and other road users, including our emergency services, who are entitled to travel along the road without facing obstruction from inconsiderate drivers who have parked their cars along the narrow road side, blocking access routes and causing congestion.
Maintaining Two Way Traffic Progression
“These passing places should assist with maintaining two way traffic progression and I would appeal to anyone visiting the area to use them for their proper purposes and do not park in them or you could face a fine.
“My Department has also undertaken improvement works in the vicinity of the National Trust car park entrance including kerbing and carriageway repairs, new road markings and marker posts. Additional signage to warn motorists of pedestrians on approach to the car park entrance will also be erected in the near future.
“Together with the National Trust and PSNI we will keep the traffic situation in the area under review and if necessary I will consider further steps to deal with any obstruction.
“Meanwhile as we approach the Easter break I know many of you will want to get outside for fresh air and exercise but please also remember that facilities such as Divis and the Black Mountain only have limited parking space. I urge everyone to continue to follow the Covid health guidelines and consider arranging their visits to less busy and safer times.”
Pleased to See Completion
The National Trust’s Director for Northern Ireland, Heather McLachlan, added: ‘We are very pleased to see the completion of these new passing places on Divis Road, and we are grateful to the Minister and Department for progressing this so quickly. Divis and Black Mountain has experienced an increasing number of visitors over the last year, as everyone continues to enjoy the benefits of nature and spending more time outdoors. Having this new infrastructure in place will help ease congestion. We continue to work with our partners including Department for Infrastructure, Belfast City Council, PSNI, Belfast Hills Partnership, elected representatives and local residents to create long-term solutions which ensure special spaces like this can be accessible to everyone. As we approach the busy Easter weekend, we remind everyone to stay local and check our website for the latest information before travelling.”
Superintendent Nigel Henry said: “Over recent months, officers have responded to multiple reports of congestion and badly parked vehicles which have caused obstructions within the area of Divis and the Black Mountain. While we welcome these new improvements, people visiting the area must still abide by local parking restrictions. Visitors should only park in the available car parks and in a manner which allows the safe and free movement of traffic in the area. This will prevent access issues for local residents and ensure emergency vehicles can access the area if required. Police will continue to patrol the area and will take enforcement action where required.”
NIEA Sign Ambitious Prosperity Agreement with Belfast Harbour
Environment Minister Edwin Poots MLA has signed a wide-ranging and ambitious three year Prosperity Agreement between Belfast Harbour and the Northern Ireland Environment Agency (NIEA).
The agreement will see the Harbour commit to reducing CO2 emissions, reducing waste, improving air and water quality and enhancing both terrestrial and marine biodiversity.
Speaking about the 11th Prosperity Agreement signed by the NIEA, the Minister said: “This is a very ambitious agreement which is an excellent example of Green Growth in action where business can grow and prosper while creating tangible environmental improvements including reducing carbon, waste and water usage.
“The agreement will see Belfast Harbour aim for a net zero target by 2030, improve biodiversity, improve air and water quality, reduce waste and aim for zero waste to landfill. This Prosperity Agreement will also see a benefit to the marine environment and I am delighted that my officials in DAERA will work even more closely with the Harbour to enhance the marine and terrestrial habitats on their 2,000 acre site.
“Belfast Harbour will invest in environmentally friendly and renewable technologies, develop its own energy, air and sustainable procurement strategies and encourage its staff, tenants and port clients to adopt more sustainable transport and resource usage practices.”
David Dobbin, Chairman Belfast Harbour said: “Belfast Harbour’s commitment to building a truly sustainable, clean, green Port is core to our Trust Port purpose. As we operate, maintain and improve our Port and Harbour Estate, our ambition is to achieve net zero carbon emissions from our operations by 2030, to reduce pollution, and to protect and enhance our natural environment and marine diversity.
“Work to deliver this is already well underway, as we introduce electric vehicles, develop our use of renewable energy, instigate studies to better understand our marine diversity and embed sustainable development across our 2,000 acre Harbour Estate.
“We are delighted to partner with the Northern Ireland Environment Agency as we accelerate and deliver our sustainability goals. We recognise that through coalition and partnership, together we can achieve so much more. By putting people, place and the environment at the heart of our sustainable business model, Belfast Harbour is developing a clean, green port, where people and planet thrive.”
Joanne Sherwood, RSPB NI Director, added: “There has never been a more important time to invest in the protection and restoration of nature. The pandemic has served as a reminder that our economy and the health of society are dependent on a flourishing natural world: decisions taken now will have a major impact for many years to come so we welcome this commitment from Belfast Harbour.”
The Minister concluded: “It is very fitting that we are signing this agreement at the RSPB Belfast’s Window on Wildlife. This is symbolic, and demonstrates Belfast Harbour’s commitment to placing the environment and sustainability at the centre of their business and I am pleased that my Department will be working in an even closer partnership with them.
“Many businesses are already thinking green – they are already doing the right thing and reaping the benefits. We want to work with progressive organisations like Belfast Harbour who are committed to sustainable growth while enhancing the environment.”
Children Asked to Share Ideas for Lord Mayor’s Time Capsule
Schoolchildren from across Belfast are being invited to share their ideas on what should be included in a time capsule which will be sealed by the city’s Lord Mayor, to be opened in 100 years.
The project is part of Belfast City Council’s Decade of Centenaries programme and aims to provide a snapshot of life in 2021 for generations to come.
Lord Mayor Alderman Frank McCoubrey has himself chosen a number of items to include in the time capsule, including a NI women’s football shirt and a special medallion to mark the centenary of the formation of Northern Ireland.
“This year marks a hugely significant milestone in Northern Ireland’s history, marking 100 years since the first Northern Ireland Parliament was opened,” said Alderman McCoubrey.
“While this milestone will mean different things for different people, Council’s Decade of Centenaries programme aims to provide a space to reflect on key historical moments and events from 1912-1922 that shaped Northern Ireland and Ireland.
“And as we look ahead to the next 100 years and wonder what life might be like then, I thought creating a time capsule would be an interesting way of capturing a little piece of history and preserving it for generations to come, so that they might have an insight into life in the city in 2021
“I’m hoping that young people will provide some inspiration as to what should be included; all suggestions are welcome but we would like it to be something that is particularly relevant to 2021 and the times we are living through.”
As a huge supporter of the Northern Ireland football team, Alderman McCoubrey said including the women’s team’s football shirt was an easy decision.
“The achievements of the NI women’s football team in making history and reaching the Euros is something we can all be very proud of,” said Alderman McCoubrey.
“I hope that when this time capsule is opened in 2121 this achievement will be seen as having been something of a turning point for women in sport, and that it is seen to inspire more young women and girls to get involved in competitive sport.”
Belfast City Council was awarded funding from the Shared History Fund, which The National Lottery Heritage Fund is delivering on behalf of the Northern Ireland Office, to deliver a number of projects to mark Northern Ireland’s centenary year, including the Lord Mayor’s time capsule project.
Young people can send their suggestions to the Lord Mayor’s Office via email email@example.com or share their ideas on Council’s social media channels using the hashtag #BelfastTimeCapsule
The deadline for suggestions is 4pm on Wednesday 19 May. All suggestions received will be considered by the Lord Mayor for inclusion in the time capsule which will be stored at City Hall until it is opened in 2121.