Member for South West Coast Roma Britnell says the State Government must listen to the concerns of Killarney residents who feel they will lose their rights to enjoy local beaches.
In Parliament yesterday Mrs Britnell spoke about her concerns that parts of the Belfast Coastal Reserve would be locked up in the name of conservation, with some activities like walking dogs on leads banned.
“We should manage situations, not lock things away. I do not see an issue with dogs being walked on leashes and recreational horse riders being on designated areas,” Mrs Britnell said.
“There is the ability to get the balance right between human interaction, recreational activity and positive environmental outcomes.
“As agriculturalists we have learnt over the years to get the balance right between the land and productivity, and that is by managing inputs and outputs, and monitoring, evaluating and constantly prioritising to ensure that balance. We can do the same for the environment and the coast, and get that balance right.
“My feeling is that this part of the Belfast Coastal Reserve master plan does not attempt to find that. Sometimes locking things up can actually leave the environment more unmanaged, and there are certainly unintended consequences that come from that.”
Mrs Britnell said the management plan was still in draft form and the State Government must get this right, take these concerns seriously and ensure that balance is found so everyone can enjoy our coastal areas.