THE bid to build the North’s first ever ecovillage right here in Fermanagh is a huge step closer, and the exciting project could be up and running in the county as early as 2020, all subject to planning permission.
Following an article on the project in the Herald back in August, a number of local farmers contacted John Paul Patton, director of the Enriched Earth Ecovillage project, regarding a potential site for the project. One of these sites, a 111 acre farm in the thriving community of Arney, has turned out to be the ideal site for the exciting project, which could help bring millions in tourism revenue and help boost the local community.
“We had thought anything from 30-65 acres could do, but to get 111 acres was reaching for the stars,” said Mr Patton, who added that, as exciting as the beautiful site itself was the fact the landowner was equally passionate about the project and supportive of its ethos.
“I was very impressed with the farmer. He was a gentleman who was genuinely passionate about the environment, not about the money,” said Mr Patton.
Mr Patton said the site was not only ideal geographically, located near other tourist sites such as the Marble Arch Caves and Florence Court, but was also perfect because of the Arney community itself, with community involvement very important to the Enriched Earth ethos.
He said he’d already met with the local history groups and development groups, such as Killesher and Cleenish, in the area and were very impressed with their passion and everything they had achieved in recent years.
The landowner in Arney has agreed to sell the land to Enriched Earth at a reasonable price, pending planning permission, which Mr Patton said they were very excited about and meant they could now proceed with their business plan, which had previously been based only on speculation.
With regard the planning permission, Mr Patton and Enriched Earth have been lobbying Fermanagh and Omagh District Council to adopt the “One Earth Development” policy, which is focused on sustainability for people living and working on land and has already been enacted in Wales. A spokesman for FODC said, while the ecovillage would currently be contrary to the PPS21 policy in its current form, they said they would consider any representations made to it for an ecovillage “in the context of the Preferred Options Paper and having regard to the Sustainability Appraisal.”
For more on this story see this week’s Fermanagh Herald.
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