Council approves £4k contribution increase for ‘excellent’ work of Belfast Hills Partnership

Antrim and Newtownabbey councillors have approved an increase of £4,000 to the Belfast Hills Partnership.
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The borough council is a key partner in the Belfast Hills Partnership which was established with the legacy Newtownabbey Borough Council. The Partnership undertakes a wide range of programmes including habitat and species surveys, environmental improvement schemes, native tree propagation, tree planting and community engagement.

Recent projects have included infrastructure works on Carnmoney Hill, tree-planting at Glas-Na-Braden Wood, outreach with local schools and events held at the Valley Park and Glas-Na-Braden Glen in Newtownabbey.

Last November, an annual contribution of £14,463 was approved for a three-year period. This will now rise to £19,036. The increase was approved at a meeting of the council’s Operations Committee at a meeting on Monday evening.

Woodland Trust site at Belfast Hills. Pic supplied by Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough CouncilWoodland Trust site at Belfast Hills. Pic supplied by Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Council
Woodland Trust site at Belfast Hills. Pic supplied by Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Council

Proposing the committee accepted the rise in contribution, Antrim DUP Alderman John Smyth said: “They do an excellent job.” Dunsilly DUP Ald Linda Clarke said she was “happy to second”.

Macedon Ulster Unionist Councillor Robert Foster asked for an invitation to be extended to Rathfern Regeneration Group, which he said, has done “outstanding work on the hill”. “They have delivered a fantastic facility for the area.”

The committee has also approved a contribution of £7,000 to support the delivery of the Northern Ireland Forest Schools Programme in Antrim and Newtownabbey. The Northern Ireland Forest School Association (NIFSA) is a charity that “promotes, develops and delivers sustainable environmental education programmes”.

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The Programme is “an innovative educational approach to outdoor play and learning, with a philosophy to encourage and inspire individuals of any age through positive outdoor experiences”, a report to councillors said.

During 2022-2023, NIFSA delivered a training programme to seven schools and nurseries in the borough. During this academic year, all schools and nurseries in the borough will be invited to register their interest with one from each district electoral area selected to participate.

Glengormley DUP Ald Paula Bradley commented: “I think this is fantastic. It is a small price to pay for the outcomes delivered through this programme.”

Michelle Weir, Local Democracy Reporter