An initiative to transform part of Carrick’s industrial heritage into an urban oasis for wildlife has been unveiled.
Guests gathered in the sunshine at Carrickfergus Mill Ponds for the official opening of Mid and East Antrim Borough Council’s newly designated Local Nature Reserve on Friday (July 24) afternoon.
The site close to the town centre also includes wetlands, mature trees, species-rich hedgerows and grasslands and a “good range” of species for the size of the area.
MEA Mayor, Councillor Billy Ashe, who was joined by young eco warriors for the launch, said: “The main features of the site are the two former mill ponds which form part of the rich and varied industrial heritage of Carrickfergus.
“The Sullatober River flows through the site forming an important wildlife corridor, linking the coast with Oakfield Glen, Bashfordsland Wood and the countryside beyond.”
The Mill Ponds are now a protected area of land designated by the local government authority to conserve their environmental and recreational value.
With assistance from biodiversity officer Alison Diver, children enjoyed environmental activities including pond dipping and ‘mini beast’ hunting.
Alison told the Carrick Times: “This is a Local Nature Reserve. Basically, what that means is it’s going to be used for conservation purposes, there’s loads of animals that live around here.
“It’s going to be for community purposes also and what you can see here are kids pond dipping, which is also part of Love Parks Week.” Love Parks Week is an annual initiative which encourages people to come together to enjoy what parks and green spaces have to offer.
The Mill Ponds development is part of ongoing work within the Mid and East Antrim Local Biodiversity Action Plan (LBAP) which was officially launched in December 2014.