The Office of the First and Deputy First Minister have confirmed to East Derry SDLP Assembly Member John Dallat they assumed responsibility for the former military site at Shackleton on 7 October 2011 and will now await a report detailing a comprehensive assessment of its economic potential.
The assemblyman said there has been considerable interest in the future development of this site since the British Army vacated it.
“Now that it has been confirmed that the Office of the First and Deputy First Minister has acquired the site there is relief that it has not simply gone to speculators with no master plan and no strategy as to how it may be developed,” he said.
“I welcome the promise of a report on the site and hope that it will be based on the widest possible consultation particularly with the local community who deserve to have input and should be fully consulted on any future plans particularly if those plans involve considerable change to the environment locally.
“It often is in economic doldrums that the best plans emerge and I feel confident that new and innovative ideas will come forward as to the future use of the site and some of the buildings which are not contaminated with asbestos or other toxic materials.
“In relation to contamination there needs to be a very clear way forward and who is to fund the potential £8.1 million pound clear up.
“We do not want a repetition of the Maze/Long Kesh site which resulted in millions of pounds spent on a clear up and still not definite long term strategy for its future use.
“The Ballykelly site has many advantages which the Maze/Long Kesh site does not have including its idyllic siting, its proximity to the City of Derry Airport and excellent network of road and rail links as well as the availability of high speed communications including Kelvin.”