Support for 'rewilding' of green spaces in Mid and East Antrim
Mid and East Antrim councillors have backed a Sinn Fein proposal for planting wild flowers in additional spaces across the borough each year.
The “rewilding” motion was proposed by Bannside Councillor Ian Friary at a meeting of the Borough Council on Monday evening and supported by Coast Road Councillor James McKeown.
Cllr Friary told the meeting that the project would enhance work already undertaken and he urged the council to work alongside members and with the community to identify sites or create spaces.
Cllr McKeown said he believed the motion would “tie in with council’s commitment to improve biodiversity”.
“Like many in our chamber, I live in an area of the community that has noticed a decline in wildlife and fish stocks through various contamination of ground and rivers. This is something we should be concerned about.”
Knockagh Ulster Unionist Councillor Andrew Wilson highlighted the ‘Forest Schools’ initiative which is supported in the borough and he urged more schools to sign up to the programme.
‘Forest Schools’ promotes outdoor learning through activities such as shelter building, foraging, insect hunts and tree climbing.
Mid and East Antrim Borough Council has been working with the Northern Ireland Forest Schools’ Association (NIFSA) and Public Health Agency to set up a Forest Schools hub at People’s Park, Ballymena.
Meanwhile, Deputy Mayor TUV Councillor Matthew Armstrong said he was concerned that that each District Electoral Area would be given such a space each year.
He suggested that the aesthetics of a “rewilded” space needs to be carefully considered especially those in a prominent location.
He also noted that it would be “quite a commitment in the longterm”.
Carrickfergus DUP councillor Alderman Billy Ashe commented: “To do every DEA, it would be up to councillors to identify to officers to make it possible.”
Ulster Unionist Councillor Maureen Morrow commented: “It is good to have areas with wildflowers but we need to be really careful about it.”
She suggested that the council could work with the Eco Rangers, a group of volunteer litter pickers, to identify spots they may be prepared to look after.
“Sometimes when planted, it takes responsibility off the council for having to mow grass.”