The Office of the First Minister and deputy First Minister has hit back at criticism over the £1 million sale of the former Shackleton site in Ballykelly.
The massive site was sold to County Down-based MJM Group last month who say they plan to create, initially, 100 jobs in manufacturing, and envision 1,000 jobs when the site is fully developed.
The sale price has been slammed by local TUV councillor, Boyd Douglas.
“Confirmation by OFMdFM that they have sold the vast Shackleton site – which was gifted to them – for a mere £1,620 per acre is a shocking indictment of their protection of the public interest. Agricultural land is worth many times this amount, yet OFMDFM has sold this prime development land for a song,” said Colr. Douglas.
“Not only that, but there are a number of buildings on the site which are valuable in their own right. I can see no justification for enriching the MJM Group with 620 acres for only £1m.
“The public purse has been robbed. This issue has been largely ignored by the media, but there is a lot of discussion locally about what seems to be an exceedingly odd situation to say the least.”
However, OFMdFM defend the sale, stating the Shackleton site “is unique and should not be compared to selling agricultural land”.
“OFMDFM agreed to sell approximately 621.5 acres of the Shackleton site to the MJM Group for £1m, which is in line with the Land and Property Services valuation demonstrating market value was achieved. The sale process for Shackleton was designed to ensure future development of the site delivers maximum benefits for the people of the North West,” said an OFMdFM spokesperson. “Proposals to purchase Shackleton were not solely assessed on the financial offer but also on job creation, environmental benefits and community benefits. The MJM Group have ambitious plans to develop the site and this sale will deliver huge social and economic benefits for local people, including the creation of employment opportunities.”