Infrastructure Minister Nichola Mallon has announced that Rathlin Island is to get Northern Ireland’s first community e-transport scheme.
The Minister made the announcement as she visited the island and met with the Rathlin Development and Community Association.
The Minister said: “Rathlin Island is a unique and special place. It has the ambition to be a carbon neutral island and wants to continue to develop its blue green infrastructure. I am fully supportive of the strategic aim of the Executive’s Rathlin Island Policy to advance a sustainable island community and I am delighted to announce the development of a community led e-transport scheme for the island which is a major step forward for islanders and visitors alike.
“This community e-car scheme will benefit the wider community, especially the younger and older populations on the island and the e-bike scheme of 20 bikes will initially be available to all islanders and visitors working on the island. In the future the Development Association would like to see it extended for visitors coming to sample the island’s natural beauty.
“This is an exciting development for the people of Rathlin and I am very pleased to be providing this investment through my Blue/Green Fund to help bring about lasting change for people here. This initiative will support sustainable living; protect the environment; and also promote active travel as an everyday form of transport and in doing so, will improve physical and mental health and our local environment.”
Michael Cecil, Chair of the Rathlin Development and Community Association said: “I welcome Minister Mallon’s visit to the island today. We share her vision of a sustainable living and working environment and are delighted to hear of her support for a community e-transport scheme for the island.”
The Minister also visited the East Lighthouse and met staff from NI Water’s Treatment works on the island. This award-winning facility has just had a £1million upgrade. The project involved the construction of a new improved water treatment facility to enhance the water treatment system on the island.
The upgraded treatment process, which is the first solution of its kind across Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, consists of a ‘mini’ Magnetic Ion Exchange (MIEX) system which uses a combination of resins to effectively treat the water with no chemical waste produced. This innovative solution secured second place in this year’s Institute of Water (IoW) NI Innovation Awards. The Minister congratulated NI Water on their success.
Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council’s centenary civic gift continues throughout 2021
Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council wants to remind people about its centenary civic gift initiative.
A bespoke coin will be presented to all residents of the borough, along with businesses or organisations, who celebrate their 100th birthday in 2021 as part of Council’s programme of events to mark 100 years of Northern Ireland.
The Mayor of Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council, Councillor Richard Holmes, explained: “Several presentations have taken place since the beginning of the year and Council is keen to identify as many eligible recipients as possible.
“If you know someone who will reach the age of 100 this year, please let us know so we can mark their birthday or anniversary in this unique way.
“The coin has been designed to commemorate Northern Ireland’s centenary and we want to celebrate this significant occasion by recognising our oldest residents and institutions.
The scheme applies to all centenary birthdays and anniversaries from January 1st 2021 until December 31st 2021.
If you want to nominate an eligible recipient then email firstname.lastname@example.org or ring 028 7034 7010.
Rathlin Island’s Ambitious Carbon Neutral Plans
Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs Minister, Edwin Poots MLA has visited Rathlin Island to see its wide variety of seabirds and hear of the Island’s ambitious plans to become carbon neutral.
During his visit, Minister Poots met with representatives from The Rathlin Development and Community Association who have a strong ambition for the Island to become carbon neutral and have been exploring a number of renewable energy options.
The Association is a partner in the Clean Energy for EU islands project, which aims to provide a long-term framework to help islands generate their own sustainable, low cost energy; resulting in reduced energy costs and greatly increased production of renewable energy; better energy security for islands, which will be less reliant on imports; improved air quality, lower greenhouse gas emissions, and less impact on islands’ natural environments, as well as the creation of new jobs and business opportunities, boosting the islands’ economic self-sufficiency.
Welcoming the Island’s ambitions, Minister Poots said: “I am delighted to visit Rathlin and meet with the local community. I admire Rathlin’s strong ambition to reduce emissions and become carbon neutral, this is aligned to my vision for Green Growth and climate action and I very much welcome the Island’s efforts to realise this goal.”
Rathlin Island is also Northern Ireland’s most important seabird colony and in summer the sea cliffs and sea stacks provide nesting sites for a variety of seabirds, including nationally important colonies of guillemot, razorbill and kittiwake. Northern Ireland’s largest populations of puffin also breed among the grassy slopes of the cliff ledges. During his visit, the Minister enjoyed a boat trip to observe the puffins and other iconic seabirds at their nesting site. The protected breeding seabird colonies are considered to be at risk, due to a number of external factors including milder winters and the lower availability of small fish.
Much of Rathlin Island and the seas around it are protected areas and while this restricts some activities, the Rathlin community is keen to recognise that the development and promotion of Rathlin tourism and environmental products is key to growth of the island economy.
Commenting on this, Minister Poots said: “I recognise the issues that Rathlin faces, both from external and internal factors, and I remain committed to working with the local Community, RSPB and other partners to deliver collaborative community led-projects that provide long term protection for the Island’s seabirds and, importantly, supports community recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic.
“My Department has provided funding of £38,000 over the past year for environmental activities on Rathlin, including £8,000 to RSPB for a community engagement officer and £30,000 to Causeway Coastal and Glens Heritage Trust to develop a seabird recovery project for the Island. This funding has enabled them to work with the Rathlin community on the development of projects to protect and restore seabird populations on the island. It has also enabled Causeway Coast and Glens Heritage Trust to work with Rathlin farmers on other environmental projects, including the management of geese on farmlands.”
The seas around Rathlin are rich in biodiversity and is an important Marine Protected Area featuring reefs, sea caves, sandbanks, seals, various bird species, deep-sea habitat, maritime cliffs and geological structures. This includes kelp, seagrass and maerl that are natural carbon stores, often referred to as blue carbon habitats, and considered to be as important as peatlands.
Concluding, Minister Poots said: “Rathlin Island and the seas surrounding it provide significant economic opportunities and it is important that these are explored and developed whilst maintaining the environmental ethos of the Island and ensuring the views of the Rathlin community are considered. The seas around Rathlin are rich in biodiversity and effective management of the marine protected area will protect and enhance these for future generations. I very much appreciate the work of the RDCA and the positive approach they have taken to working with nature.”