Friends of the Earth Northern Ireland

Lagmore Glen needs protection

James’s love of nature started as a small boy, where through his bedroom window he could see the Belfast hills and the hatchet field where he played.

About 30 years ago, James was sad to see his playground as a child being lost due to quarrying, so he started to organise groups with the help of friends to campaign on this. This group joined with other groups to form the Belfast Hills Aspiration Group. The group held the first walk across the hills to raise awareness of the loss of the landscape due to quarrying. James soon realised Lagmore Glen also needed protection and this became a major campaign focus. Lagmore Glen is rich in biodiversity, and James became aware that his beloved glen was to be developed for housing. There was a public enquiry with regards to the glen’s development, and James and his friend Gerard Daye were the only two attendees! Remarkably without legal representation, they saved the glen from being developed, and negotiated with the commissioner and developer’s planning team for less housing and preservation of green space with extra tree planting and landscaping.
Living close by with a view of the glen, James keeps a close eye on it. However, in 2013 Mount Eagles Drive Action Group was formed when residents become aware the glen was under threat again. The group lobbied for increased protection of the glen. In 2015 Lagmore Glen was designated as an Urban Landscape Wedge, which carried protections that it would never be built on. James thought his beautiful glen was safe and fully protected, but last year new plans emerged that the upper section was to be infilled destroying the natural landscape and the protected newts, which were relocated unsuccessfully. The campaign continues, and despite the protected status of Urban Landscape Wedge the developer started to infill and the group has been unable to stop the destruction. In a time of climate emergency the residents of Lagmore are asking how can this be allowed to happen to a protected site?

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