In April 2010 Lecale Conservation welcomed the announcement at Tyrella Beach of a climb-down by the Department of the Environment on their proposed de-designation of the area between St. Johns Point and Dundrum Bay as “areas of outstanding natural beauty” (AONB’s).

Lecale Conservation initiated the campaign to save the AONB in early 2009 had been assisting local people in fighting the loss of the AONB status for the last 14 months.

Our campaign ensured the department had been overwhelmed with complaints from people living in Killough and Dundrum who were outraged at the proposal and its serious anomalies. In particular the revocation of AONB status for Tyrella’s blue flag beach, we got a wide range of elected representatives involved including Jim Wells MLA, Cadogan Enright, and other local politicians.

Miners town’s wildlife beach, and the Ballykinlar Dundrum bay area stand out as utterly astonishing. It was completely ironic that the car park at ASDA and McDonalds take-away in Downpatrick were proposed to be newly designated an AONB. This made no sense and left many local people perplexed. Suspicion remains it was a way to bring pipelines of power lines ashore without having to underground them.

The iconic view from St. John’s point back towards Newcastle and the Mournes ranks with the Giants causeway as the gems of the environment and a tourism magnet in NI. Withdrawing AONB status for this area would have damaged our growing tourist industry, one of the few sustainable industries in the area that we have direct control over.

Lecale Conservation Society even organized a protest by 30 local artists to paint the areas affected and put on an Art exhibition in Downpatrick Library.