- 03 September 2012
Alliance Newcastle Councillor Patrick Clarke has welcomed a commitment being given by the Minister for Agriculture and Rural Development to carry out essential repairs to the glasshouses and built structures within the National Arboretum at Castlewellan Forest Park. Councillor Clarke had voiced his serious concern about the overall decline of the National Arboretum and other parts of Castlewellan Forest Park, and through his Alliance colleague Kieran McCarthy MLA tabled an Assembly question to the Minister for Agriculture and Rural Development on the upgrading of the National Arboretum at Castlewellan Forest Park.
Cllr Patrick Clarke stated: "I welcome the fact that the Minister for Agriculture has now outlined that the Forest Service has recently signed a memorandum of understanding with Down District Council which will create a framework for the recreational use and tourism potential of forests within Down District Council area.
"I have been advised that the Minister for Agriculture believes that the badly declined Arboretum at Castlewellan Forest Park will be one of the areas considered jointly by both Forest Service and Down District Council with the aim of securing a long term viable end use in the care.
"Forest Service is currently in the process of obtaining estimates for essential repairs to the glasshouses and built structures within the Arboretum at Castlewellan Forest Park.
"I am very pleased that the National Arboretum at Castlewellan Forest Park after decades of decline and dereliction is finally going to have a future with the possibility of being completely restored to its once former glory.
"As somebody who regularly visits Castlewellan Forest Park, it would be great in the long term for the recreational and tourism potential of this natural attraction to be fully realised to take care of this historic estate for future generations."