Minister gives green light to Lafarge plans to transform quarry
Published: 28 July, 2009
NORTHERN IRELAND: Planning permission has been granted for Lafarge Cement UK's redevelopment of the company's redundant works and quarry at Magheramorne on the shore of Larne Lough, 22 miles north of Belfast.
Northern Ireland Environment Minister Sammy Wilson has approved plans submitted by Lafarge in May 2006 which will see the bulk of the 153-hectare site transformed into a major recreational and leisure attraction.
On 15 hectares of the site, on land where the cement works buildings once operated, a new 450-dwelling harbour village is to be created. Buildings here will be at the forefront of eco-friendly design.
Lafarge is to forego all profit it would ordinarily receive from obtaining residential land values on this part of the site in order to help subsidise additional costs associated with the ultra-green development as well as to help with the establishment of the recreational and leisure uses which would not otherwise be viable operations.
Lafarge Cement UK land and planning director, David Simms explained: "For the best part of 100 years, the cement works at Magheramorne was a major employer in the area and a fundamental part of the day-to-day life of the local community.
"This project is a big 'thank you' to the local community. It is not about making money, it is about leaving a legacy from which the next generation can benefit, at the same time as creating an example of how we can all live our lives in a more environmentally-conscious way.
"In 2000, Lafarge was the first industrial company to become a WWF Conservation Partner. Now we are working with WWF to establish the harbour village at Magheramorne as one of the very first One Planet Initiative Communities in which residents aim to use only their fair share of the earth's resources."
Lafarge Cement UK's rating and regeneration manager, Lloyd McInally, who has project managed the plans for Magheramorne, is very positive about the benefits that will result from proposals: "The site - equivalent in size to 220 football pitches - is the largest 'previously-used' or 'brownfield' site awaiting redevelopment in Northern Ireland and represents a unique opportunity to transform the fortunes of the local and regional economy. It is expected that 400 jobs will be created once the development is complete and many millions of pounds spent on the site and locally by visitors to the various attractions.
"The local Belfast-Larne railway line will also receive a boost with many more people using Magheramorne Station which is to be integrated within the new development.
"The potential of the Magheramorne site will come as a real surprise to many people in Northern Ireland. Maybe some people will remember the Works from back in the 1980s when cement production and quarrying was in full swing, but the fact is that for a site of its size it is visibly well hidden. But I now expect awareness of Magheramorne to increase enormously and for it to become a 'must visit' location on the Antrim Coast."