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Last Updated: Tuesday, 18 September 2007, 16:51 GMT 17:51 UK
Causeway public money 'on hold'
Giant's Causeway
The Giant's Causeway is Northern Ireland's top tourist attraction
Enterprise Minister Nigel Dodds has said plans for a publicly funded visitors centre at the Giant's Causeway have been put on hold, but not aborted.

He told an assembly committee that if circumstances change the move to drop the public sector plan for a privately developed one could be reviewed.

Mr Dodds said this was a "sensible, straightforward" stance.

However, SDLP North Antrim assembly member Declan O'Loan said it was "a significant change of position".

Last week, Mr Dodds announced that plans to spend 21m of public money on a visitor centre would be halted.

On Tuesday, Mr Dodds said it would not be good value to commit taxpayers' money while there was a strong chance that a private developer would build the centre.

However, he said if this was to change then public money might still be used.

The previous visitors' centre burned down in 2000.

The causeway, renowned for its polygonal columns of layered basalt - resulting from a volcanic eruption 60 million years ago - attracts nearly 500,000 visitors a year.

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