A ‘gift to the council’ was how Reamai Mathers, Landscape Partnership Scheme Manager for The Heart of the Glens Landscape Partnership, described the work his group could do in conjunction with the Causeway Coast and Glens Council.
The Glens are set to benefit from a £1.4 million cash injection from the Heritage Lottery Fund’s Landscape Partnership Scheme and the Causeway Coast & Glens Heritage Trust, based in Armoy, is the body responsible for the development phase of this Heart of the Glens project.
Mr. Matthews explained to the committee that working hand in hand with the Trust could save the Council money, especially at a time when the issue of grass cutting is currently a cause for much debate.
“One of the key areas we wish to work on is transforming areas which have been previously neglected into more inviting areas through the use of natural meadows which are easier to maintain and in doing so make them much more inviting to the community.
“At present it costs councils £1,100 per acre a year to cut grass. However, working with us there could be a saving of £700 per acre, per year which is significant.
“We can help develop areas, we can make areas more inviting to communities, train staff on how to manage meadows and hold community consultations.
“Its not about letting meadows grow wild, it’s about key management.
“The challenge for us is to change the perception that they are untidy but there is a process and a natural cycle and a time to cut.
“What we need is permission from Council to develop sites within the Glens and a commitment from the Council to work with us. The cost to the Council is nothing, it’s like a gift but there’s plenty for them to benefit from, so it’s a potential win, win for the Council.”
Cllr Kieran Mulholland said; “I get really excited when I see a project like this within our area. You’ve got a strategy to tackle the environmental challenges we are facing.
“We have lost a connection with our local area, you only have to look at the way cycling has come on in recent years and with projects like this we could so the same with walking.
“You certainly have mine and my party’s support.”
Councillor Sandra Hunter added “It does worry me about the cost of the grass cutting so to save that £700 per acre would be very beneficial to this council going forward. “