Disappointment over Dark Hedges signage

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North Antrim MLA Mervyn Storey has asked Government minister, Arlene Foster, what progress her Department is making with directional signage generally for the province and, in particular, at the Dark Hedges.

In response, Mrs Foster said she was disappointed with the progress on the policy.

She commented: “The policy, in theory, is shared between the Tourist Board and the Department for Regional Department’s Roads Service, although Roads Service has the final say on whether a brown sign is erected.

“Unfortunately, the policy remains with DRD, and an up-to-date policy is not yet in place.”

Mr Storey said he shared his party colleague’s disappointment.

Declaring an interest as a member of the Dark Hedges Preservation Trust, Mr Storey went on: “Will the Minister help me to ensure that, as far as the Regional Development Minister and his Department are concerned, every effort is made to change the policy so that the many hundreds of people who regularly visit the Dark Hedges will be signposted to what I believe to be the most idyllic treeline in Northern Ireland? Indeed, it is the fifth most visited treeline in Europe.”

Mrs Foster added: “I had hoped that we would by now have had a policy on brown signs that would recognise the specific circumstances of Northern Ireland and be more flexible.

“I understand from Roads Service that it does not want a proliferation of brown signs around Northern Ireland. When one visits mainland Europe, one can see why that is the case.

“There are signs everywhere in France and Germany and it is very confusing for motorists. However, a little flexibility on brown signs would be wholeheartedly welcomed by people who are trying to find tourist attractions.

“I hope that we are able to come up with a policy that is flexible and workable and that, above all, works for all the tourists who come to Northern Ireland.”