An Alliance party motion to seek an alternative transport system to the multi-million pound Mournes Gateway project has been criticised as a “flat earth society” proposal.
Plans to regenerate the disused Thomas Quarry in the Mournes into a world-class visitor experience have recently gone on display for the first time.
The proposed £44 million visitor centre would see visitors ferried into the heart of the Co Down mountains using a gondola lift system.
Slieve Croob Alliance councillor, Andrew McMurray raised the motion at Newry, Mourne and Down District Council (NMDDC) this week.
It read: “This council notes the concern about the continued lack of clarity, as well as increasing public opposition regarding the visitor centre located at Thomas Mountain and ‘gondola’ elements of the Mournes Gateway project.
“Stakeholder events and information sessions fall short of a full public consultation for a project of this financial, environmental and economic magnitude.
“The council will pause the progression of this project until explicit consent from the landowner is acquired, commission a full public consultation on the project open to all residents within the district, including open and transparent stakeholder engagement, actively investigate and develop alternatives to the ‘Gondola and Thomas Mountain Visitor Centre’ elements.
“Alternatives, which will both meet the funding criteria while enhancing this Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB).”
However, a lack of support for the motion was indicated in the chamber by a Co Down rep.
Mournes DUP councillor, Henry Reilly quipped: “The Alliance party and the flat earth society.”
The motion was sent to committee for debate.