New Areas Of Special Scientific Interest Declared
Published on Mon, 14 Jan 2002
The DOE Environment and Heritage Service made two important conservation designations affecting County Down recently.
The coastline of the Outer Ards peninsula and Killough Bay were declared as Areas of Special Scientific Interest (ASSI) on 14 December 2001.
Graham Seymour of EHS explained: "The Outer Ards ASSI extends from Grey Point, near Crawfordsburn, to Ballyquintin Point near Portaferry. The designated site is mainly comprised of inter-tidal areas, but with some additional adjoining areas of semi-natural habitat. It includes sand and mud dominated shores, cobble and boulder beaches, together with rocky shores and maritime grassland. Some off-shore islands are also included.
"Besides being an important geological site, the Outer Ards coast has some notable bird populations. There are breeding colonies of Arctic Tern and Manx Shearwater as well as wintering populations of Light-bellied Brent Goose, Golden Plover, Turnstone and Ringed Plover. Both Grey and Common Seals can be seen along this stretch of coastline."
Killough Bay and Strand Lough ASSI is comprised of an inter-tidal bay, a sheltered tidal lough and associated areas of swamp and wet grassland. Mr Seymour said the principal interest is the wintering population of the Light-bellied Brent Geese which feed on the green seaweed found in the harbour.
"Strand Lough is perhaps the best example of a brackish lagoon in Northern Ireland and has a rich and distinctive flora," he said.
The decision regarding these designations will be made by Sam Foster MLA, the Minister of the Environment, when the consultation is complete and the ASSIs are confirmed.
Notes to Editors
- As well as informing landowners and other interested parties about the ASSI declarations, EHS is consulting a range of parties on the additional proposal that these sites should also be designated as Special Protection Areas and Ramsar sites because of the international importance of their bird interests.
- Further information contact Paddy Murphy, DOE Press Office, tel: 028 9054 0014