A COUNCILLOR has accused the National Trust of “raping” the coastline.
The claim by independent member Padraig McShane was made during a debate over plans to develop tourist facilities at a council-owned beauty spot close to the Trust-controlled Carrick-a-rede Rope Bridge.
Mr McShane said developing a trail-head for walkers and building a new path between the Portnareevey site and National Trust property would provide the charity with a “bonanza” pay day.
The plan is the latest phase in a grand scheme to create a “world class walking trail” along the north coast.
It aims to allow hikers to complete the entire route without having to navigate sections of the busy coast road.
Though it's council-led, the Trust has been consulted over the scheme since they own large sections of the coastline, officers confirmed.
However, at Tuesday's meeting of the full council, Mr McShane said the Portnareevey project would provide the charity with an opportunity to install a “charging point”for walkers approaching the rope bridge from the east.
“They couldn't have dreamt up a better opportunity,” he said
Mr McShane said local people were “sick sore and tired” of the charity. He added: “We are going to link up to National Trust land and its going to be a bonanza to them.
“And that's exactly what the National Trust do – they are raping the North Coast.”
Councillor McShane's proposal to block the scheme was defeated by 21 votes to seven.
*For the full story see this week's Coleraine Chronicle.