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Caring for the Hills, their Wildlife and People

Issue 7 | Spring 2009

Waste site for Hightown? An MBT type facility

The Belfast Hills Partnership has been approached about the possible siting of a waste facility in the Hightown Road area. It is part of arc21 plans for handling our black bin waste and is a move away from putting our refuse into landfill. Made up of 11 council areas in the eastern region, arc21 is seeking to install an Energy for Waste (EfW) - or incinerator - and at least two Mechanical Biological Treatment (MBT) facilities. The private sector will submit bids for the construction and operation of these facilities. Belfast City Council is also consulting with ratepayers about whether to

have such waste facilities at Dargan Road on the North Foreshore. Householders have seen big changes in the last few years in recycling and waste collection brought about by the introduction of European Union regulations. It is clear that the current consultation attempts to tackle the potentially contentious issue of where the EfW facility will go. Less clear are the alternatives if the North Foreshore site is removed as an option. The Belfast Hills Partnership will be doing its utmost to ensure that any facilities put in place are the best in terms of our environment, local people and the Hills.

• Arc21, the umbrella waste management group for 11 councils in the eastern region of Northern Ireland, plan to build two new types of waste facility. • One is Energy from Waste (EfW) or a waste incinerator. • EfW recovers heat and electricity by burning waste that is not suitable for recycling. To use this energy efficiently, these facilities are often sited close to housing or other developments. • Also planned are a number of Mechanical Biological Treatment (MBT) facilities. Arc21 has begun a major procurement process to install anything from one to three plants. • An MBT system is a form of waste processing operation that combines a sorting facility with a form of biological treatment such as composting. MBT plants are designed to process mixed household waste as well as commercial and industrial materials. • The massive contracts to build and run these facilities should attract the attention of international companies, cost many millions and would be expected to run for a minimum of 25 years.

Step in Time We hope readers will enjoy our new heritage feature that will reveal interesting anecdotes, people and places from days gone by in the Belfast HIlls. The regular column which we unveil in this spring edition of the Newsletter is part of a brand new heritage project for the Hills. Of course, we’d love to hear of your knowledge of the Belfast Hills as part of our research for the study. So please write, call or email us if you feel you could contribute to this exciting project. Read on and take a Step in Time...

THe healing waters at colin well Colin Well was a site of pilgrimage well into the 1800s and the healing waters were renowned for their miracle cures. Located at the south eastern slopes of Colin Mountain, Colin Well attracted thousands of people with all manner of diseases and pains, for well over 100 years to bathe in its life-giving spring. A stone bathing house was erected at the site and designed to let the full force of the stream fall on the person inside. Midsummer night was a time when young people gathered at Colin Well to bathe and socialise.

Farmers don’t beat around the bush - when it comes to nature! Farmers aren’t ‘hedging’ their bets when it comes to encouraging a rich array of wildlife in the Belfast Hills. And many in the local farming community don’t beat around the bush - digging in to plant new hedges recently with native species of bush and tree. These vital hedge habitats will provide new homes for wildlife. In the Belfast Hills most of the mature trees are found in hedges and provide nesting and perching posts for birds. Hedges are a source of shelter not only for agricultural livestock but for a whole host of wildlife. They provide refuge for countless types of plants, insects and small mammals. Unfortunately the Belfast Hills has lost many of its hedges over the years, often due to exposure to wind and other elements. Lack of management and inappropriate cutting regimes can also result in gaps and breaches in hedges containing biodiversity-rich deciduous trees. The Belfast Hills Partnership has produced a poster about field boundaries that comes with a

booklet issued by the Department for Agricultural and Regional Development (DARD). The leaflet aims to provide hedgeplanting farmers with some additional encouragement and advice on how to plant hedgerows and look after them. If you would like to obtain information on hedgerows and other field boundaries please get in touch on 028 9060 3466.

Lyle Hill Young Farmers planting hedges in the Belfast Hills

Rural Development Programme rolled out Brave hearted farmers were not put off by the cold of February when they queued – many sleeping out overnight – to access funding under the new Rural Development Programme (RDP). And for the first time, farmers in the Belfast Hills community can access these European rural funds to be delivered over council areas that take in a sizeable region of the catchment in the Hills. Farmers living in the council areas of Lisburn, Belfast, Castlereagh, Antrim, Newtownabbey



qualify for the cash. The new programmes have yet to be finalised but are likely to work across the following aspects of rural development:

• Farm diversification • Creating and supporting rural micro enterprises • Rural tourism • Basic services for rural communities • Village regeneration and rural heritage. The new campaign was launched in January to further promote the 2007 – 2013 Rural Development Programme and the opportunities that it has to offer. If you think you would be interested in rural development projects and wish to find out more, go to the RDP website or contact your local council. We will try to keep our website updated with the latest news about this programme.

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The Belfast Hills Partnership would also be delighted to take walking 9edjWYj08[b\Wij>_bbiFWhjd[hi^_f¸&(./&,&)*,, [cW_b_d\e6X[b\Wij^_bbi$eh] groups to introduce them to the sites –CWccWC_WCej^[hi½MWbae\8[b\Wij9Wijb[ free of charge! So get your friends, IWjkhZWoCWhY^(&"''Wc¸'fc work colleagues or community group Jh[WjckcjeWbel[boifh_d]j_c[mWba\eh together and discover walking the Cej^[hi :Wo m[[a[dZ je i[[ fh_chei[i hills and a and9Wijb[ healthy you. ]hem_d] WhekdZnew 8[b\Wij [ijWj[$ J^[d Y^eei[ je [nfbeh[ j^[ YWijb[ eh fbWo _d j^[ 7Zl[djkheki FbWo]hekdZ$7Zc_ii_edY^Wh][Wffb_[i$ 8eea_d]_i[ii[dj_Wb

Contact the Belfast Hills Partnership on 028 9060 3466. 9edjWYj08[b\Wij>_bbiFWhjd[hi^_f# &(//&,&)*,, Check out _d\e6X[b\Wij^_bbi$eh]

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It’s a bumper 2009 for our events programme! Get your hands on this year’s events programme which is bursting with even more expert guided walks in the Belfast Hills with the emphasis on fun! And to find out about our great range of free tours and other events, simply phone us and ask to have the events guide posted to you – hot off the presses and in time for the Easter holidays. Its handy new design means you can open up the leaflet to poster size

From our firm favourites like the bus tour of the Hills to more walks to keep And 2009 has gone cosmic when it you fit, healthy and comes to new routes. >bedgiVcied^cih  The Divis Mountain to Sir Thomas happy, there’s an and Lady Dixon Park Nature Trail is 7bbWh[l[hom[bYec[jeekh[l[dji event for you. Xkjfb[Wi[X[Whj^[i[_cfehjWdj now underway. fe_dji_dc_dZ0

And to mark the upgrading of and put it on your wall at home. So the 10km path, the Belfast Hills v 7bbY^_bZh[dkdZ[h',ckijX[ you’ll have no excuse not get out and WYYecfWd_[ZXoWdWZkbj Partnership is hosting a fundraising v Ik_jWXb[Ybej^_d]WdZ discover the Belfast Hills! day in September. So complete the \eejm[Whi^ekbZX[mehd This year’s itinerary is also packed v :e]iWh[Wbbem[Zediec[ route and become one of the first to with lots of exciting things to do mWbaiXkjedboedWb[WZ do so! v Iec[fWhjie\mWbaiYWdX[ and see around the Hills including a ij[[fehZ_\ÅYkbj From our firm favourites like the bilberry picnic on Divis Mountain. v J^ek]^ceije\ekh[l[dji^Wl[ bus tour of the Hills to more walks Other events will make the best of deWZc_ii_edY^Wh]["m[]hWj[\kbbo to keep you fit, healthy and happy, WYY[fjWdoZedWj_edijej^[Y^Wh_jo getting out and seeing woodland there’s an event for you. flowers in spring, orchids in summer Find our more about this year’s events J^[8[b\Wij>_bbiFWhjd[hi^_fWYj_l[bofhecej[ih[ifedi_Xb[ and the colours of autumn in places at and click on Yekdjhoi_Z[[d`eoc[djWdZ^WifkXb_i^[ZWd7YY[ii9eZ[$ like Hazelwood and Carnmoney Hill.7lW_bWXb[edb_d[Wjmmm$X[b\Wij^_bbi$eh]$ the ‘events’ section. There is no shortage of activities for all the family with the :kZcihViV\aVcXZ launch of our first geocaching 7fh_b IWj'. 9Whdced[oifh_d]mWba extravaganza – with caches active CWo IWj() 9Wl[>_bbYb[Wdkf all through July. Other ways to @kd[ IWj, 7b_[d_dlWi_edlebkdj[[hZWoWj9eb_d=b[d IWj(& 8kiJekhe\j^[8[b\Wij>_bbi stop the family brain drain over  Ikd(' B_l_d]fWijZWoWj:_l_i the summer holidays will be a @kbo '#)' =[eYWY^_d]Y^Wbb[d][ IWj* 8kjj[hÆomWbaWjIb_[l[dWYbeo fun-filled orienteering evening at   J^kh', Eh_[dj[[h_d][l[d_d]Wj9Wl[>_bb Cave Hill in July.  IWj(+ 8_eZ_l[hi_jo<W_hWj8[b\WijPee May the volunteer force be with  IWj(+ 9Wl[>_bb^[h_jW][mWba you if you dare to take part in  IWj(+ Ekh<h_[dZiedj^[>_bb our Exterminate All Aliens day 7k] J^kh, 8_bX[hho[l[d_d]f_Yd_YWj:_l_i Ikd/ 9eb_d=b[djhW_b at Colin Glen. Wipe out invasive  I[fj IWj(, 9eb_dje:_nedB_da\kdZhW_i_d][l[dj species plants that threaten our EYj IWj'- >Wp[bdkjmWbaWj9Whdced[o native habitats, or help clean :[Y Ikd, 9^h_ijcWiYh[Wj_ediWj9eb_d=b[d up the lovely slopes of Cave Hill (&'& with the Cave Hill Conservation @Wd IWj/ 9eb_d=b[dm_dj[hmWba CWh IWj(& CWccWC_W8[b\Wij9Wijb[mWba Campaign in May.

Marathon man vows to move mountains for Belfast Hills New Chair is welcomed to the Partnership

K^h^idjgZm]^W^i^dch Former Sports Council man Danny  O’Connor has taken over the helm A[[fWd[o[edekhm[Xi_j[# as Independent Chair of the Belfast mmm$X[b\Wij^_bbi$eh]\ehkf#je#ZWj[ _d\ehcWj_ededekhijkdd_d]f^eje]hWf^_Y Hills Partnership and he’ll be [n^_X_j_edie\j^[8[b\Wij>_bbi$ moving mountains in his pledge to J^_io[Whekhl[dk[i_dYbkZ[0j^[d[m8[b\WijPeeL_i_jehi 9[djh[WdZ8[b\Wij9[djhWbB_XhWho$ forge “managed and sustainable” benefits for the Belfast Hills. DjgZkZcih

 new chairman is also the Chair The v EkhmWbaib[ZXoijW\\\hecj^[ of Belfast City Marathon, Vice FWhjd[hi^_fm_bb_djheZkY[j^[i_j[i Chair of North Belfast Play Forum v B[WhdWXekjj^[Xk]i"fbWdjiWdZ andWd_cWbi_dj^[>_bbi Commissioner to the Irish v >[WhWXekjfbWY[ib_a[j^[¼CekdjW_dBed[o½" Basketball Association. ¼CY7hj½i<ehj½WdZ¼:kdWdd[oHWj^½ After three years of sterling work, Ken Patterson has passed the ;dg[jgi]Zg^c[dgbVi^dc mantle to Danny who comes K^h^idjglZWh^iZVilll#WZa[Vhi]^aah#dg\ from a sports and recreation dgXdciVXii]ZEVgicZgh]^eVi/ background. 8[b\Wij>_bbiFWhjd[hi^_f J[b&(./&,&)*,, ;cW_b0_d\e6X[b\Wij^_bbi$eh] “Ken Patterson has

overseen the establishment of a firm foundation. J^[\kbbdWc[e\j^[eh]Wd_iWj_ed_ij^[8[b\Wij>_bbi FWhjd[hi^_fJhkijBjZ$ Upon this, the Partnership, its directors and members can JchjgZl]ZgZVcnd[i]Z h^iZhVgZ4 move forward to create a greater awareness of the Hills as a 9edjWYjj^[8[b\Wij>_bbi FWhjd[hi^_fed&(./&,&)*,, community resource and over ehl_i_jekhm[Xi_j[ time, develop them for managed mmm$X[b\Wij^_bbi$eh]\eh\khj^[h Z[jW_bi$ and sustainable use,” said Danny. <hedjYel[hf_Yjkh[Yefoh_]^jDehj^[hd?h[bWdZJekh_ij8eWhZ(&&/

The flower power in our woodlands We all know great flower power comes from bluebells which makes many spring woodland walks such a special event. But there is a range of other woodland plants sharing some ‘thieflike’ characteristics with bluebells. Growing under trees is not easy, but they are experts in ‘stealing’ most of the light and water needed to cope and thrive in a woodland environment. The first trick is to grow and flower as early as possible. That is before the trees have had a chance for their leaves to sprout and spread their allenveloping shade. That’s why most of our woodland flowers appear so early. The leaves of lesser celandine first start opening in January. Most others such as bluebells, wood sorrel, wood anemone (pronounced ‘an enemy’) wild garlic and primroses follow on from March to May. Thus they will have flowered and set seed by the summer when the woodland is in dark shade. Our spring flowers also enjoy increased light when a tree falls or if they grow at the woodland edge. The less specialised ones can even hang

on for years after woodland has been felled. Removal of invasive sycamore at Hazelwood on Cave Hill means in the near future there will be a wonderful bloom of woodland flowers in the open patches. The profusion of flowers will remain for a few years before the leafy canopy grows over again.

The first trick is to grow and flower as early as possible. That is before the trees have had a chance for their leaves to sprout and spread their allenveloping shade. Carnmoney Hill has a couple of open fields with a carpet of bluebells. Lucky for them the Woodland Trust has replanted these up so they just have to hang on for another 10 years before they’re back under tree canopy

again. Parts of Cave Hill also have large patches of wood anenomes far away from any trees – a clue to where old woodland and scrub once stood. There are a few even more specialised plants which must have woodland cover to survive. Sanicle within Hazelwood and bird’s nest orchid and toothwort along the Colin Glen valley are strong evidence that these are ancient woodlands. If a new woodland was planted it could take many decades for the more common bluebells and primroses to appear. But it could take hundreds of years before the latter highly specialised wildflowers would establish. All the more reason to hang on to our rare woodland. Dr Jim Bradley Partnership Manager

Clockwise from far left: toothwart, bluebells, birds nest orchid and wood anenomes growing in the Belfast Hills.

Heroes of the Hills The North West Mountain Rescue Team look after the safety of walkers in the Belfast Hills.

the scene and working out plans. We must often walk great distances to find casualties, so they will always be hypothermic for which they need treated.” Trained in first aid, the mountain rescuer must always be prepared for any eventuality.

The Belfast Hills are relatively safe which means there’s rarely any need for these hardy bunch of mountain rescuers. However the Hills can be exposed to rapidly changing weather conditions. So when out walking it is reassuring to know that if a situation arises – no matter how many precautions you have taken - there is a highly trained and expert team that protect the public as they walk the summits of the Hills. These guardians of the Hills are men and women who give up their free time to help save those in peril on our mountaintops. There are 50 active members – volunteers who are ready to mobilise should a situation arise. Eastern Section looks after hills like Divis and the Black Mountain, Cave Hill, and the areas surrounding the city. Volunteer Han Fisher explained the job while on a training exercise recently on Divis. “If we get a callout, it is the Eastern Section that will be out on the hills to search for casualties. But we can also call on other members of the team that look after the rest of Northern Ireland. “We are tasked to a call by the police and we go from there – getting on

“The first thing I think of when I get a callout is, ‘oh gosh, I hope I have all my gear packed’.” Han Fisher

“The first thing I think of when I get a callout is, ‘oh gosh, I hope I have all my gear packed’. Then we are on the scene, receive a brief and work out a search area. We then get an idea of what to expect from the condition of the casualties. A lot of it is planning ahead to be able to put up shelters and provide extra food.” Han hopes the outstanding safety record on the Hills continues, but he has a word for the wise. “We encourage folk to go out and use

It’s your Belfast Hills

the Belfast Hills, but we’d recommend appropriate footwear, clothing, maps and compasses if needed, along with the ability to use them,” said the mountain rescuer.

Contact the Belfast Hills for help and advice with any concerns or questions regarding the hills, their wildlife and people. Also, let us know what you would like to read about in future newsletters. Charity No: XR70288 Company No: NI053189 Address: Belfast Hills Partnership, 163 Stewartstown Road, Belfast, BT17 0HW Tel: 028 9060 3466 Fax: 028 9030 9867 Email:

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