A major conference on Northern Ireland’s changing landscape is set to be held in Craigavon today.
One of the original architects of the Craigavon Borough, William J Cairns will be the keynote speaker.
The former chief landscape architect of the Craigavon Development Commission will be joined by Minister for the Environment, Mark H Durkan MLA, and delegates from all over the UK and Ireland.
They meet to discuss some of the most pressing challenges facing landscape architects and planners in 21st Craigavon Borough Council.
The Northern Ireland Environment Agency (NIEA) and the Landscape Institute Northern Ireland (LINI) are hosting the conference entitled ‘Changing Landscapes’ in Craigavon Civic Centre.
Craigavon Mayor, Councillor Mark Baxter, said; “This conference takes place at a time of significant change under local government reform and with major challenges facing those charged with planning and designing the environment in which we live, work and play.
“We’re delighted to host it here at the civic centre in this Craigavon’s 50th year.”
The minister will open the conference by welcoming delegates and officially launching a Landscape Charter for Northern Ireland aimed at opening and encouraging a dialogue between everyone with an interest in the regional Century Northern Ireland.
Minister, Mark H Durkan, said: “Today’s conference comes in response to a growing awareness of our unique sense of place here, the speed of change and the increasing power people can exercise locally in their surroundings.
The European Landscape Convention which came into force here in 2007 empowers us all to make a difference. One of its guiding principles is that ‘all landscapes matter’.
“I am therefore delighted by the public response so far to Northern Ireland’s new Landscape Charter. This is a call to action for everyone in the North, individuals and organisations alike, to sign up to the Charter online with their comments and suggestions of good practice which they think should be celebrated.
“The North’s landscapes are its hidden treasure and must be valued. The conversation about our places and landscapes and why we value them has already started, this conference will ensure that it continues.”
To celebrate the 50th anniversary of both Craigavon New Town and the formation of the Landscape Institute in Ireland, the conference will focus on the importance of landscape legacy and landscape design.
Significantly, planning function will be transferred to the 11 new councils in April 2015, with the new local authorities taking charge of planning decisions, preparation and delivery of future development plans, and development of local policy.
The conference offers an excellent and timely opportunity to increase awareness and highlight best practice from throughout the UK and Ireland.
Speakers have been invited from Natural England, Scottish Natural Heritage, The Landscape Institute and Department of the Environment.
The Landscape Charter can be found at the DOE NIEA website – http://www.doeni.gov.uk/niea/land-home/landscape_home.htm