A new ferry service to serve the island community of Rathlin will be officially launched on Wednesday, 9 September 2009. A new purpose-built high speed vessel capable of carrying 100 seated passengers will provide a comfortable, accessible, year-round service to the island and will reduce the crossing time for the six mile journey from 45 minutes to 20. Congratulations to Rathlin Development and Community Association for its part in this realisation of efforts to improve services to the island.
The Building Equality and Inclusion Grant Scheme offers financial support to arts, cultural, leisure, community and heritage venues and organisations that are committed to enhancing accessibility for people with disabilities.
Adapt NI will distribute incentive grants of up to £2,000 depending on the ownership of the venue, quality of application and proposed work to be undertaken. Applications will be considered on a first come first served basis and priority will be given to proposals for support for projects that can be completed by March 2010. The competition for funds is expected to be high. For more information visit www.adaptni.org, call 9023 1211 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
The Department of Finance and Personnel is seeking views on the development of the draft Northern Ireland spending priorities and the underpinning policy directions for the Dormant Bank and Building Society Accounts Scheme. A 'dormant bank account' is a bank or building society account which a customer has not asked about, put money into or taken money out of for at least 15 years.
It is estimated that there will be in the region of £10 million to £20 million available in the first year of the scheme with an anticipated several hundred thousand pounds available each year thereafter.
The consultation's aim is to establish spending priorities to specifically address the needs of the people of Northern Ireland and asks for input on a number of questions, including:
- are there particular areas or issues that would benefit from the funds?
- are there particular groups of individuals or organisations that should be targeted?
- should disadvantaged areas in particular be targeted?
The consultation paper is available to download from DFP's website and responses should be submitted by 29 October 2009.
Colin Glen Forest Park has recently been awarded the Green Flag Award by the Civic Trust. The Forest Park, located on the Stewartstown Road between Belfast and Lisburn, is a 200 acre wooded glen on the banks of the Colin River, a tributary of the River Lagan. The Park also features a lake, wildlife ponds, open meadows and spectacular views over the city of Belfast.
The Green Flag Award is the national standard for quality parks and green spaces and Colin Glen Forest Park was commended at the awards ceremony as the only non-council owned park to win the award.
The Park is managed by Colin Glen Trust whose main aims are to conserve and enhance the biodiversity and wildlife of the Forest Park, and to provide an open and welcoming community space. The Trust works in close partnership with local neighbourhood groups, environmental interest groups, volunteer groups and local service providers and organises a wide range of educational and recreational events for the public, including wildflower walks, grow your own vegetable demonstrations, 'bat nights', tree planting days and orienteering events.
For further information see www.colinglentrust.org
The new Minister for the Environment, Edwin Poots MLA, has launched his consultation proposals for major changes to the planning system. The proposed changes have an impact on many aspects of planning including:
- community consultation on planning applications;
- people's rights to be heard at inquiries;
- rights of appeal by objectors; and
- developer contributions.
Consultation events are being held by the Planning Service during September 2009. "Before then", said Colm Bradley, Director of Community Places, "we will be providing advice and support to our members and other community groups so that they can all present their views with as much effect as possible".