The board of Lough Neagh Partnership had the pleasure of recently hosting Nicholas Ashley-Cooper, The 12th Earl of Shaftesbury, at a meeting in Ballyronan to discuss the management of the Lough and ownership of the Lough’s bed and soil.

The meeting preceded a wildfowlers information event, the first event of its kind in more than 20 years.

Gerry Darby, Strategic Manager of the Lough Neagh Partnership, said: “It was a real pleasure to sit down for a face-to-face meeting with Nick and directors of Lough Neagh Partnership, to discuss important issues affecting the Lough.”

Among the issues discussed at the meeting was the new Lough Neagh Strategy drawn up by the Partnership and how the two bodies could work more closely together to implement its recommendations.

The possibility of developing small, sponsored conservation projects with Shaftesbury Estates of Lough Neagh and other private sector partners was also discussed, as was the need for improved navigation and dredging on the Lough.

Nick Shaftesbury commended the Partnership on the huge amount of positive work carried out on the Lough and expressed a strong willingness to continue to work closely with the Partnership as the representative management body of the Lough.

Nick said: “I had a very positive and engaging meeting with the Lough Neagh Partnership Directors. Shaftesbury Estates of Lough Neagh is committed to working closely with other members of the Partnership and all stakeholders around the Lough, to improve the Lough’s management and ensure its future is fully protected.

“As always, we remain open to discussing options for the future ownership of the bed and soil.”

Following the meeting, at the wildfowlers information event, Nick was joined by 65 wildfowlers to discuss the conservation work of the Lough Neagh Partnership and to look at birdlife on the Lough.

Gerry added: “Bringing together the wildfowlers for the first time in 20 years for an informative event, was a great way of providing information on the wildlife on the Lough and to help address the needs of the wildfowlers. The open discussion gave everyone attending an opportunity to talk about the cultural tradition of wildfowling and allowed those concerned to voice an understanding of the mutual appreciation that we all have for the Lough’s expansive shoreline.”

Those attending the event were briefed by representatives of Lough Neagh Partnership on the wider work of the organisation and how the future conservation efforts of the Lough and its shoreline are of consideration for everyone involved including farmers who farm along the shores of Lough Neagh.

Nick added: “It was good to gather everyone together and listen to the views of the Lough’s wildfowlers. There is now a great opportunity for everyone to work more closely together, and to gain a greater awareness of some of the issues affecting Lough Neagh.”

Earl of Shaftesbury
Nicholas Ashley-Cooper, The 12th Earl of Shaftesbury (seated left), is pictured with Gerry Darby, Strategic Manager of Lough Neagh Partnership (seated right), and members of the Lough Neagh Partnership board at a recent meeting.

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