Consultation finds in favour of buying Lough Neagh for the community

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A consultation involving communities around Lough Neagh has recommended the establishment of a Development Trust “to acquire, own and manage” its bed.

The proposal comes at the completion of the seven-month exercise, which was undertaken on behalf of the Department for Agriculture and Rural Development.

The aim of the project was to test the feasibility of a community ownership model for the Lough, which is currently owned by Lord Shaftesbury.

Over 300 users, stakeholders took part in a series of meetings, public events, and a Future Search conference, which was earlier this year.

Commitments were made by stakeholders across habitat, economy, tourism, community vision, recreation, navigation and waterways safety, and the need for good governance for Lough Neagh.

While everyone involved in the process agreed consideration should be given to the management and acquisition of Lough Neagh by way of the establishment of a Lough Neagh Development Trust.

Chair of Development Trusts NI, Nigel Kinnaird, said: “Lough Neagh is important to us all and many see it as an under developed asset.

“We must now encourage stakeholders, communities, local authorities and statutory agencies to incorporate these management recommendations into their forward work programmes.”

Meanwhile, a three-month suspension of fishing for the lough’s pollan and trout species will come to an end on May 31.

The dramatic decision was taken by the Lough Neagh Fisherman’s Co-operative Society, which owns the lough’s fishing rights.