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Report proposes investment for beauty spots

Moorlough. DR13

A NEW study into two Sperrins beauty spots could pave the way for a £1m investment in tourism, recreation and angling.

Approved by councillors at Derry City and Strabane District Council’s Business and Culture Committee last month, the Two Loughs Report focuses on the potential to enhance the Moorlough and Lough Ash sites, which lie between Dunamanagh, Aughabrack and Glenmornan.

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Lough Ash is already linked with angling, while Moorlough is enjoyed for an array of recreational uses. 

The 150 page report was commissioned by the council alongside the Loughs Agency and Inland Fisheries, which falls under the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA). Among the key findings is the need to establish and define the roles and responsibilities of the various public bodies and consolidate and formalise legal agreements in relation to both land and angling.

However some £930,750 (ex VAT) of enhancements have been costed for the report, with £584,000 costed for Moorlough and £244,000 for Lough Ash. Another £102,850 has been costed for additional spending, including consultancy and marketing fees.  The major enhancements proposed include pathways and resurfacing for roads and car parks around both locations.

The report also proposes a new £131,000 nature trail around Moorlough, as well as the installation of a play area and telescopes.

Approving the findings last Tuesday (April 17), Derry and Strabane’s Business and Culture Committee gave the green light for council officers to investigate the options for delivery in partnership with the Loughs Agency and Inland Fisheries.

Local Sinn Féin councillor Dan Kelly has described the development as “momentous”, stating that it represents “the most significant and exciting vote of confidence for fishing and tourism development in this part of the Sperrins for at least a generation”.

“I’m very pleased that having been involved so closely with this project over a long number of years that there is finally a report which is so categorical in stating that both Moorlough and Lough Ash lie at the heart of what will be a phased blueway development in the Sperrins. 

“This blueway development will be expanded in phase two to incorporate the Burndennett and Glenmornan Rivers, and in phase three to incorporate the Strabane Canal.”

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