THE FUTURE OF LOUGH NEAGH
Its potential – our shared responsibility?
Lough Neagh is the largest freshwater lake in Britain and Ireland, with a surface area of 383km2. The Lough makes up approximately 125km of shoreline, impacting on the local authority areas of Antrim & Newtownabbey, Mid Ulster, Mid & East Antrim, Lisburn & Castlereagh, and Armagh, Banbridge & Craigavon.
It provides water, jobs, minerals, fish, leisure and a rich and varied natural environment. It has local, national and international environmental designations, including:-
- Area of Scientific Interest (1965) re-designated ASSI (1992)
- Ramsar Site from 1973 because of the very large numbers of wintering wildfowl
- 8 Nature Reserves
- Special Protection Area (from 1998) under European Habitats legislation
Yet many see the Lough and its surrounds as a tremendous natural asset which still has much unrealised potential in terms of the economic, social and environmental benefits it might offer local people and communities.