Friday, 17 June 2011

New Orienteering Course in Carrickfergus

People in Carrickfergus Borough are being offered a new way to stretch their legs and their minds, with the launch of a new permanent orienteering course at Bashfordsland Wood and Oakfield Glen.

 The Mayor of Carrickfergus, Alderman Jim McClurg officially opened the new course and its accompanying map which was funded by Carrickfergus Borough Council. At the launch, 100 local secondary school pupils took part in a competition laid on by NI Orienteering.

Alderman McClurg said “We want to encourage as many people as possible to explore this beautiful woodland area and get fit at the same. Orienteering is a fun way to exercise both your leg power and your brain power. It’s also been proven that exercising in woodland and other green spaces boosts both your physical health as well as your mental health. The beauty of this area is the open access for active recreation, which lends itself perfectly to orienteering. Permanent orienteering courses like these are aimed at beginners and improving orienteer’s who want to practice their skills and enjoy a walk, or run in the woods. I would like to thank NI Orienteering for all their help and advice to make this project a reality and a big thank you to the Woodland Trust who manages Oakfield Glen.”

Helen Baxter, NI Orienteering said “Orienteering combines outdoor adventure and fun, it is ideal for people of all ages, shapes and sizes. Orienteering involves using a map to navigate round a series of control points that are marked on the ground by red and white flags. Orienteering maps are specially drawn to a large scale with lots of detail. The sport provides a healthy mix of physical activity and mental challenge. Map reading skills are learned while having fun finding the markers on your course. Everyone can take part at their own pace. It’s perfect for children, who can run around in a fun, safe, controlled environment and also excellent for adults wanting to shape up, try something new and meet new friends.”

If you would like to try orienteering, visit the Council website for events or to download the course map. The map is also available at Oakfield Community Centre. The NI Orienteering website ( has lots of events and advice on Orienteering throughout Northern Ireland.”

Orienteering Course at Bashfordsland Wood

Friday, 10 June 2011

Reducing the Horticultural Use of Peat

Defra today set out a new policy framework to reduce the use of peat in horticulture to zero by 2030 as part of the Natural Environment White Paper. This includes the following milestones:

a progressive phase-out target of 2015 for government and the public sector on direct procurement of peat in new contracts for plants;

a final voluntary phase-out target of 2030 for professional growers of fruit, vegetables and plants;

we will establish a Task Force bringing together representatives from across the supply chain with a clear remit to advise on how best to overcome the barriers to reducing peat use, exploring all the available measures to achieve this goal;

building on the advice of the Task Force, we will review progress towards these targets before the end of this spending period and consider the potential for alternative policy measures if necessary.

The taskforce will be chaired by Dr. Alan Knight OBE and include representatives from retailers, growing media manufacturers, growers and environmental organisations. It will have a clear remit to foster a partnership approach focussing on identifying and addressing supply chain issues, exploring all available measures to deliver our ambition and determining the criteria against which the policy will be reviewed. Peat is cheap, readily available and of consistent quality, and any alternative has to compete with these factors. The taskforce will produce a comprehensive and detailed roadmap to address barriers in relation to both the supply and demand of peat alternatives, with the aim of reforming once and for all a supply chain focussed around peat.

Also published today was the summary of responses to Defra’s recent consultation on this issue, along with two research reports which provide part of the evidence base for today’s announcement. Link: Summary of consultation responses.

In Carrickfergus Borough Council we have already baned the purchasing of peat at our properties (more info here).