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Last Updated: Tuesday, 20 November 2007, 18:21 GMT
Trust gets causeway site control
By Mike McKimm
Investigations correspondent, BBC Northern Ireland

Giant's Causeway - pic Jamie Addis
Giant's Causeway is a popular tourist attraction
The National Trust is to get control over the current visitors' centre and car park at the Giant's Causeway.

The BBC has learned that Moyle Council which owns the centre and the car park is to lease it to the Trust.

The centre had been the focus of a tug-of-war between the council, two government departments, the National Trust and a private developer.

Temporary buildings were put in place in 2000 when the previous centre burnt down.

A seven year wrangle then developed over what should ultimately replace these and who should build and run them.

A local developer, Seymour Sweeney lodged plans in 2001 for a large alternative centre to be built nearby.

But his proposals were shelved by the planners. Then in September this year, the Environment Minister, Arlene Foster, said that she was "minded" to approve Mr Sweeny's plans in lieu of any other option.

An alternative scheme devised by the DETI Minister, Nigel Dodds, along with Moyle Council and the National Trust was immediately stopped by the Minister.

Mr Sweeney then approached Moyle Council offering them compensation if they cleared the existing buildings and car park away. This would leave the way open in anticipation of his scheme being passed.

But the council seems to have replied to Mr Sweeney by planning to hand the control of the area over to the National Trust instead.

The Trust is to meet with Nigel Dodds in a few days time to explain what it proposes to do next.

Both they and Moyle Council have declined to comment on this new development in the meantime. Mr Sweeney is awaiting confirmation of any leasing arrangements before making a statement.



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