THE recent Riverine funding announcement has “emboldened” the team behind the beleaguered Three Rivers Project.
Three Rivers’ project director, Niall McAteer said the multi-million euro boost for the forthcoming cross-border shared space, will only help further his own development plans.
In November 2011 Niall McAteer unveiled plans to transform land between Strabane and Lifford by building a hotel complex, a wildlife centre, an employment park, a learning campus and a sports centre. The investment was predicted to generate some 450 jobs with 1,847 posts created overall.
Then, in a blaze of publicity in 2014 the then Environment Minister Mark H Durkan granted the project planning permission. But since then not a single sod has been turned.
However, in the wake of the 8.5million euro boast from the Special European Union Programmes Body (SEUPB), Mr McAteer says he is now hopeful the Three Rivers Project could finally come to fruition.
“The Riverine announcement is absolutely brilliant,” Niall McAteer remarked.
“Riverine was always a strand of our original planning proposal from the beginning… but we’re delighted. An investment like this is very much welcome.
“This certainly helps further our project. There were always two key parts to the Three Rivers, the first being the Riverine. The other is the A5.
“Riverine – this development – embolden us with confidence that we’re ready to say that the Three Rivers site is open for business.
“We’re very hopeful now too in relation to the A5. We’re hopeful that it could finally begin before the end of the year.
“Both of these things will effectively open up the no man’s land, as we’ve called it and they’ll help us promote Three Rivers to further investment and development.”
Mr McAteer also believes the Riverine funding award says a lot about the European Union’s attitude to border areas.
“I believe that Riverine and the new funding – coming in the middle of Brexit – shows a determination on the part of the EU that border areas like Strabane and Lifford won’t be forgotten about,” he concluded.