Call for a ‘safe zone’ for swimmers on Lough Neagh
A safe zone for swimmers should be created on Lough Neagh at Oxford Island, says the SDLP.
Cllr Declan McAlinden is to present a proposal for a safe recreational zone for swimmers and paddle boarders.
Part of the shore would be demarcated with signage and buoys to protect swimmers from motorised boats.
The councillor is to presented the proposal to to Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council.
He said: “This proposal has come out of the need for individuals to feel safe without the fear of collisions with motorised crafts in the open water.
“With our leisure and swimming facilities currently closed due to lockdown regulations, many people are turning to our Lough to swim. Open water swimming has exploded and it is great to see.
“We have now arrived in Spring and coming up to the Summer months, we will have more activity on our water. To prevent any such one-off incident of a motorised craft colliding with an individual, this proposal makes perfect sense and will be a great success to everyone.
“I have already received overwhelming support with private messages and on social media but it is important that council takes the lead on this initiative and consult on the views of those local clubs and enthusiasts.
“I want our Borough to be safely enjoyed by everyone and Oxford Island and Kinnego Marina are very popular with swimmers, kayakers and sailors. The Lough does, of course, need to continue as a harbour and zoning off an area for recreational use strikes an appropriate balance between this and the needs of those wishing to take part in activities other than sailing.
Cllr McAlinden added: “In preparation for Summer, I will also be asking Council to increase general awareness of the restrictions and hazards with improved signage at all open water facilities. The signage will highlight potential hazards to users and list all the restrictions and prohibitions such as swimming.
“I would be keen to see this extended right across our Borough to other tourist attractions at Kinnego Marina, Maghery and Gawleys Gate and others. I will be asking council officers to bring back a report to committee on where this is viable within our Borough.
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