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Displaying items by tag: Northern Ireland

#MarineWildlife - The Northern Ireland Environment Minister says the new Marine Bill put before Stormont marks a "turning point" for the North.

As 4NI reports, this week saw the fourth stage of the Marine Bill in the NI Assembly as well as the launch of a consultation strategy for Marine Protection Areas (MPAs).

Should it be enacted in legislation, the Marine Bill - strongly supported by the RSPB among others - would give the Assembly powers to select and manage Marine Conservation Zones (MCZs) to safeguard the North's marine biodiversity.

Minister Alex Attwood commented: "Northern Ireland’s seas are home to some of the world's most spectacular wildlife and habitats, and have the potential to power our nation through wind and wave and create thousands of new jobs.

"We have reached a turning point and must modernise in order to meet increasing and competing demands on our seas."

The Marine Bill also provides for the creation of a National Maritime Plan which covers all aspects of the marine environment from wildlife to investment in tidal and offshore wind power.

4NI has much more on the story HERE.

Published in Marine Wildlife

#InlandWaterways - NI Environment Minister Alex Attwood has finally announced planning permission to restore part of the historic Ulster Canal that has not been used since 1929.

The original Ulster Canal was completed in 1841 and linked the Erne System to Lough Neagh with a 93km navigation route. It was last used for trading boats in 1929 and officially closed two years later.

The application is to restore 14km of the navigational route in total - 5.5km or river navigation from Quivvy Lough to Gortnacarrow and 8.5km of canal from Gortnacarrow to Clones.

This will involve construction of the existing canal route and tow paths for public access on both banks. New road bridges are to be constructed at Derrykerrib, Wattle Bridge, Gortnacarrow and Clonfad/Munilly with three farm accommodation bridges.

The plan is to restore two existing canal bridges and a double lock at Gortnacarrow that will facilitate a rise from the River Finn to the canal section. A mooring of 170m with 32 car parking spaces and public toilets will be provided at Gortnacarrow. A picnic area and a further 20 parking spaces will be provided at the new bridge at Clonfad/Munilly.

Minister Attwood said: “The Ulster Canal restoration project has been a key heritage and tourist attraction for a long time, which has gathered momentum since the late 90s. Today is a turning point for the project. I hope the Planners’ green light means the project can accelerate.

“This is an example of cross-border initiatives working and working well. It follows from my announcement to give planning permission to the bridge at Narrow Water, linking Warrenpoint and Omeath.

“This cross-border project will be a boost for the people of Fermanagh, Cavan and Monaghan. It will re-open a historic waterway that has not been used for over 80 years and offers huge opportunities for regeneration and leisure-related activities for the entire region.”

Four accompanying applications for Listed Building Consent to carry out works to repair and restore three listed bridges and works to the Clones Aqueduct have also been approved.

Northern Ireland's Department of the Environment consulted Fermanagh District Council on its opinion to approve this application on 18 April 2013.

Monaghan County Council and Clones Town Council have signalled that planning approval should be granted for the Repubic side of the canal - although moves have been slow on that front.

Despite confirmation from Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht Jimmy Deenihan in April 2012 that the "main thrust" of waterways refurbishment is still focused on the reopening of the Ulster Canal, no significant moves have been made in the year since that statement, which came some months after a U-turn in Government funding for such projects.

Published in Inland Waterways

#Angling - The new Strategic Review of Angling initiative for Northern Ireland aims to encourage more people to get out fishing on Ulster's coastline and waterways.

The Belfast Telegraph reports on the scheme, developed by Sport NI and the NI Tourist Board, with the Loughs Agency, government and angling groups, as a two-pronged approach: promoting the sport at home and pushing Northern Ireland as a top destination for angling tourism.

"This is an exciting opportunity for us to help foster the interest in angling and enable the province to enhance its reputation for the quality of its fishing and the warmth of its welcome to visitors," said Geoff Hughes, director of consultants G&L Hughes Ltd who have been appointed to advise on how angling in NI might be best developed.

Meetings will be held next month where stakeholders can evaluate proposals and put forward their views, while an online survey is already soliciting the views of interested clubs and organisations.

The Belfast Telegraph has much more on the story HERE.

Published in Angling

#Clipper - Irishman Sean McCarter is among the 'dynamic dozen' skippers selected to lead their amateur crews in the ninth edition of the Clipper Round the World Race.

The 31-year-old is looking forward to a home crowd welcome when the race visits Northern Ireland on its final leg in summer 2014.

He will be joined by the third ever woman to skipper a Clipper crew in 30-year-old Vicky Ellis from Bristol, who has paid her dues as a training skipper over three years.

The 12 yacht masters, selected from hundreds of possible candidates in a rigorous process, now begin their final training ahead of the race start in August.

But first comes the crew allocation on 11 May, when the race hopefuls - including two Irish challengers - will find out who they'll be sailing with.

Published in Clipper Race

#RNLI - Rather than accept gifts for their 50th wedding anniversary, a Portstweart couple have asked their family and friends to make donations to Portrush RNLI.

As the Coleraine Times reports, Ewart Toms and his wife - who are well known butchers in the area - raised £500 for the RNLI which they were more than happy to hand over to lifeboat station volunteers at Portrush.

They said: “We wanted to mark this special occasion in our lives, by making a donation to a cause close to our hearts, and to the volunteers who risk their lives to save others.”

The Coleraine Times has more on the story HERE.

Published in RNLI Lifeboats

#RNLI - Newcastle RNLI’s always-on-call lifeboat crew had to abandon their buckets and sponges during a fundraising car wash at the weekend to respond to an emergency at the Co Down town’s harbour.

The RNLI volunteers were busily soaping and rinsing cars for their annual Easter fundraiser on Saturday when they were alerted to a woman in trouble in the freezing water a few yards from one of the piers.

The car wash was immediately abandoned and within minutes the inshore lifeboat Aldergrove II was launched and rushed to the woman’s aid.

At the same time, crew member Shane Rice grabbed a lifebelt from the pier and jumped into the water to assist the woman. He kept her afloat while the Aldergrove II came alongside.

The woman was helped into the rescue inflatable, wrapped in blankets to prevent hypothermia, and taken back to shore where an ambulance was waiting to take her to hospital.

Newcastle RNLI’s deputy launching authority Clifford Moorehead said afterwards: "The lifeboat crew are always ready to respond in an instant to any emergency. It is fortunate that the car wash was in progress at the time and the crew members were on hand to swiftly deal with this case.


"After the rescue the crew members came back to the harbour and resumed their car wash. It’s just all in a day’s work for the RNLI."

It wasn't the only callout of the weekend for the RNLI in Co Down, as Bangor RNLI assisted a lone sailor who got into difficulty on a sailing dinghy Easter Sunday.

At 1.10pm the volunteer lifeboat crew received an urgent request from Belfast Coastguard to launch the lifeboat and rescue one person from a 17ft dinghy. 

The sailing dinghy had reportedly gone aground on ‘Cockle Island’ off Groomsport Harbour on the southern shores of Belfast Lough.  
  


Upon arrival at the scene, the volunteer crew found that the occupant onboard the dinghy had been assisted by another boat owner and the vessel had been safely tied to a mooring buoy.  
 

Meanwhile, last Wednesday evening Portaferry RNLI was launched to reports that red flares has been sighted on Strangford Lough off Kircubbin in Co Down.

They were joined by a coastguard team that searched the shoreline and after some time recovered a spent flare casing. The inshore lifeboat and its volunteer crew were stood down after a number of hours with the callout proving to be a false alarm.

Portaferry RNLI lifeboat operations manager Brian Bailie said: "A member of the public acted in good faith ... alerting the emergency services to what they understood to be a distress flare on the lough."

He reiterated that flares "should only be used in emergency situations".

Published in RNLI Lifeboats

#Coastguard - A Limavady councillor says two men rescued yesterday from the snow-covered Benevenagh Mountain should be billed for the cost of their "completely idiotic" escapade.

The Belfast Telegraph reports that the Irish Coast Guard's Sligo-based Rescue 118 helicopter was involved in the major operation to retrieve the two men who became stuck while climbing a snow gully.

It also emerged that a PSNI search and rescue team had to be airlifted to the site by an Army Air Corps helicopter that had been involved in distributing animal food relief to farmers badly affected by the recent poor weather.

Limavady councillor Edwin Stevenson, who is also a farmer, said: "I am at an absolute loss as to why anyone would decide to climb Benevenagh in these conditions and can only describe the actions of these two men as completely idiotic."

He suggested that the NI Executive should consider "billing people who carelessly risk not just their own lives, but also the lives of the emergency services who invariably end up having to dedicate time and energy rescuing them".

The Belfast Telegraph has more on the story HERE.

Published in Coastguard

#WaterSafety - RNLI lifeguards in Northern Ireland are to feature on a new television series on UTV.

The Magazine starts on Sunday 7 April at 7.30pm with host Sarah Travers in her home town of Portstewart to introduce viewers to some of her favourite people, places and topics.
 


As part of the first programme, TV presenter Emma-Rosa Dias will find out what it takes to be a lifeguard with the RNLI when she visits the charity’s area support centre in Ballymoney - before being put through her paces by RNLI lifeguard supervisor Tim Doran to see if she is ready for the challenge.



After a test in the swimming pool, Dias experiences a slice of the real thing when she pays a visit to Portrush East Strand on the Causeway Coast, one of the five beaches in Northern Ireland which begins its Easter season on Good Friday tomorrow 29 March.



As previously reported on Afloat.ie, this lifeguard cover will run throughout Easter week until Sunday 7 April.



Filming took place on Monday afternoon and despite the unseasonal weather, the charity’s highly trained lifeguards took the opportunity to demonstrate that they will be ready to assist the visitors who will brave the elements and take a trip to the seaside over the Easter break. 



Speaking following the afternoon’s shoot, Tim Doran said filming with UTV was a great way to show how highly trained RNLI lifeguards are.

"Our lifeguards spot potential dangers before they develop, and are on hand to give appropriate safety advice and respond immediately if anyone gets into difficulty," he said. "Because our lifeguards work closely alongside our volunteer lifeboat crews, it means the RNLI offers beach-goers and water-users a seamless rescue service from beach to open sea."

While Easter is often the time when people are getting back in the water after the winter, and while it’s good to see people enjoying the beaches, the RNLI is encouraging visitors to make sure they have the right kit to keep warm.



"It’s much colder now then it was this time last year," Doran added, "and our lifeguards will be wrapping up and we’d encourage everyone else to do the same. So, if you are heading into the sea, make sure you’re wearing a good wetsuit or drysuit, go with other people and keep an eye on each other.

"Keeping warm in cold weather can take a lot of energy, so fatigue can be an issue, plus watch out for the wind chill factor – even a slight breeze can have a dramatic effect on how cold it feels."



Meanwhile, to find out how Emma-Rosa Dias gets on, tune into UTV at 7.30pm on Sunday 7 April.

Published in Water Safety

#WaterSafety - RNLI lifeguards will provide Easter cover for the first time on three of the most popular family beaches in Northern Ireland.

For the second year running, lifeguards will be patrolling Tyrella Beach in Co Down, and for the third year will be ready to offer safety advice and assistance on Benone Strand on the north coast.



In addition this Easter, lifeguards will also be patrolling Portstewart Strand, Portrush East Strand and Whiterocks beach, all of which are located along the Causeway Coast.



The cover commences on Good Friday 29 March and will run throughout Easter week until Sunday 7 April.



Despite the unseasonal weather, the charity’s highly trained lifeguards will be ready to assist visitors who brave the elements and take a trip to the seaside over the Easter break. 



The lifeguards will operate on Benone, Portstewart, East Strand and Whiterocks from 11am to 7pm, and from 10am to 6pm on Tyrella Beach.



RNLI regional lifeguard manager Mike Grocott said: "Our highly trained lifeguards spot potential dangers before they develop, and are on hand to give appropriate safety advice and respond immediately if anyone gets into difficulty.

"Because our lifeguards work closely alongside our volunteer lifeboat crews, it means the RNLI offers beachgoers and water-users a seamless rescue service from beach to open sea."

The RNLI started providing lifeguard cover on Northern Ireland beaches in 2011, working with Coleraine Borough Council, Limavady Borough Council and the National Trust - and going into its third season now has lifeguards on 10 beaches.



Last year, lifeguards in the areas of Newry and Mourne District Council, Down District Council and the Causeway Coast together responded to 158 incidents and assisted 176 people.



Speaking ahead of the Easter holidays, RNLI lifeguard supervisor Tim Doran encouraged anyone planning a trip to the beach to keep safe.

"Always swim at a lifeguarded beach. Never use inflatables in strong winds or rough seas and check tide times before you go," he said. "If you get into trouble, stick your hand in the air and shout for help and if you see someone else in trouble, tell a lifeguard. If you can’t see a lifeguard, call 999 or 112 and ask for the coastguard."



The RNLI is also encouraging anyone planning a trip to the seaside this year to download its ‘Beach Finder’ mobile app.

The handy app makes it easy to find the nearest lifeguarded beach, and gives users a wealth of beach safety information at their fingertips.



Real-time weather information and a five-day forecast for each location is also included with the app – ideal for anyone wondering whether they’ll need to pack their suncream or waterproofs!



The app is available to download free of charge on both Android and iOS devices from www.rnli.org/beach.

Published in Water Safety

#SeaKayaking - A Portrush teen is preparing to cross the Irish Sea by kayak for charity this summer.

Top surf kayaker Andy McClelland aims to raise funds for the Alzheimer's Society, Kidney Research and the Regional Respiratory Centre with his One Man One Boat campaign, which will see him kayak 22 miles across the open water from Donaghadee in Co Down to Portpatrick in Scotland.

The current Surf Kayak Junior World Champion will embark on his challenge in a high-performance sea kayak on loan from Rockpool Sea Kayaks and is presently planning his trip with fellow physiotherapy students at Ulster University Jordanstown as well as the Causeway Coast Kayaking Club.

McClelland has yet to set a date for the solo crossing, awaiting word on the best possible weather and sea conditions in May.

The Alzheimer's Society has more on the story HERE.

Published in Kayaking
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