Belfast Metropolitan Area Plan 2015
District Proposals: Metropolitan Newtownabbey Natural Environment
Areas of International/National Nature Conservation Importance
The Belfast Lough shore within Metropolitan Newtownabbey is recognised as an area of international nature conservation importance and is designated as follows:-
- Belfast Lough Ramsar Site;
- Belfast Lough Special Protection Area (SPA);
- Inner Belfast Lough Area of Special Scientific Interest (ASSI); and
- Outer Belfast Lough Area of Special Scientific Interest (ASSI).
These designations recognise the importance of the Lough shore for internationally important over-wintering numbers of Redshank as well as the over-wintering waterfowl assemblage.
The Belfast Lough Shore Ramsar, SPA and ASSI are also designated as Areas of Constraint on Mineral Development at designation NY 05 (See Countryside and Coast). These areas are identified on Map No. 2 – Environmental Designations (Parts 1-3, Volume 1) and Map Nos. 20b - 20e. Further details are set out in the Countryside Assessment Technical Supplement.
Development proposals within or adjoining these areas will be assessed in accordance with prevailing regional policy as set out in PPS 2 Planning and Nature Conservation.
These areas of Nature conservation importance and additional areas inside the Metropolitan Development Limit are also designated as BMA Coastal Area under Designation COU 3 in Part 3, Volume 1 of the Plan. Policy for the control of development within the designated BMA Coastal Area is contained in Policy COU 4 as contained in Part 3, Volume 1 of the Plan.
The prominent summit of Carnmoney Hill in the centre of Metropolitan Newtownabbey separates the Ballymartin/Glas na Braden valley from that of the Three Mile Water. Carnmoney Hill is a prominent local landmark of significant amenity value and accordingly is designated as an AOHSV at COU 6/03 in Part 3, Volume 1 of the Plan and as a Local Landscape Policy Area at MNY 43. In order to prevent the unrestricted sprawl of the urban area on to the hill and protect its setting, Carnmoney Hill is designated as BMA Green Belt under Designation COU 1 in Part 3, Volume 1 of the Plan. The Hill also contains areas of nature conservation interest which are designated as SLNCIs at MNY 39/02 and MNY 39/03.
Carnmoney Hill plays a strategic role in the local open space network and contains part of the metropolitan community greenway network. It is acknowledged as part of the Belfast Hills by environmental interest groups and statutory bodies. A significant portion of the southern and western portion of Carnmoney Hill is currently in the control of the Woodland Trust who have recently entered into a lease agreement with Newtownabbey Borough Council to bring 80 hectares of land under its conservation management scheme. This will lead to better public access for the surrounding urban population.
The Trust and Newtownabbey Borough Council have formulated a plan which involves developing the Hill into a nature area/parkland with woodland areas and meadowlands creating paths and trails and protecting sensitive flora and fauna. The council has recently completed work on a public right of way from Carnhill Parade, off Prince Charles way, to the summit of the hills at the ordnance survey trig point, which has spectacular views over the Lough, the wider Belfast Metropolitan Area and surrounding countryside.