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Last Updated: Friday, 14 September 2007, 15:43 GMT 16:43 UK
Free centre for Causeway on offer
Giant's Causeway
The Giant's Causeway is Northern Ireland's top tourist attraction
A property tycoon has said he is prepared to build the National Trust a visitors' centre at the Giant's Causeway free of charge.

But Peter Curistan's Sheridan Group would also benefit by building houses and/or a hotel at the only world heritage site in Northern Ireland.

The National Trust said it has yet to be contacted by Mr Curistan.

Meanwhile, Moyle District Council has opposed plans for a privately-funded centre on the site.

Earlier this week, DUP Environment Minister Arlene Foster said she was "minded" to approve plans by another private developer, Seymour Sweeney.

This decision reflects growing public opinion that visitor facilities at the Giant's Causeway should remain in public ownership
Hilary McGrady
National Trust

However, concerns have been expressed because Mr Sweeney is a member of the DUP.

Moyle council voted on Friday to keep any new visitor centre in public ownership and also turned down a request from Mr Sweeney for a meeting.

The decision has been welcomed by the National Trust's director, Hilary McGrady.

"This decision by Moyle District Council reflects growing public opinion that visitor facilities at Northern Ireland's only World Heritage Site, the Giant's Causeway, should remain in public ownership," she said

"We believe that this is the only way to ensure that all surplus income from the site is re-invested in the conservation of the World Heritage Site and for the direct benefit of the surrounding area."

National stadium

Coleraine Borough Council has already voted to keep the proposed centre in public hands.

The Sheridan Group, which has made the latest offer, is involved in property development in Northern Ireland and in several other countries.

It had plans for a possible national stadium at Ormeau Park in Belfast turned down by the city's council on Thursday night.

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.

What Peter Curistan has offered to the National Trust

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