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Tuesday, 5 February, 2002, 13:22 GMT
Council to decide on Causeway's future
Over 500,000 people visit the causeway every year
Over 500,000 people visit the causeway every year
The long-running controversey over the future of the Giant's Causeway is due to be resolved at a meeting on Wednesday.

A fire destroyed the visitor centre adjacent to the top tourist attraction and World Heritage Site in April 2000.

A meeting of Moyle District council will decide finally on whether to sell or redevelop the site on the north Antrim Coast.

The council has said it cannot affort the costs of rebuilding the centre and both the National Trust and a private company are bidding to redevelop the nine-acre site.


We would love to retain it because it is Moyle's Golden Egg and the top tourist attraction in all of Ireland

Gardiner Kane
DUP councillor

The National Trust owns the natural stone phenomenon.

The unique sprawl of hexagonal basalt columns that make up the Giant's Causeway, was formed when lava broke through the earth's crust 60 million years ago and cooled as it hit the sea.

The National Trust plans include building a multi-million-pound visitor centre, in proposals that would protect the surrounding landscape.

The building would include craft centres, gift shops and restaurants.

Meanwhile, Seaport Investments have proposed a 3,000-square-metre underground centre, including interpretative area, a post office, and a 200-seat cafe/restaurant.

Potential funding

The council was set to decide on which plan to proceed with but a last-minute motion has been lodged by unionist councillor William Graham, calling on the council to reverse its decision to sell the land.

This followed a visit last week by the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Investment Sir Reg Empey, who outline potential sources of funding available to rebuild the centre.

Some councillors said this was a sign that the Stormont Executive was ready to support them if a decision not to sell the site was taken.

However, a spokesman for Sir Reg said he had been at pains to stress that the ultimate decision rested with the council and that he would support whatever route it took.

Democratic Unionist Party councillor Gardiner Kane, said he was unsure how the meeting would go.

Destiny

Mr Kane said he was concerned that relying on outside funding could ultimately place an extra burden on the ratepayers, adding that selling might be the only solution.

"We would love to retain it because it is Moyle's Golden Egg and the top tourist attraction in all of Ireland," he said.

"The only financial commitment from government would be if we went into partnership.

"That would be wrong because the council wouldn't be in charge of its own destiny."

The Giant's Causeway attracts nearly 500,000 visitors a year.

See also:

05 Dec 01 | Northern Ireland
Giant's Causeway plan scrapped
22 Jun 01 | Northern Ireland
Row over Giant's Causeway pub plan
30 Apr 00 | Northern Ireland
Investigation into Causeway blaze
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