Work to start on science pk

THE construction of a new North West Regional Science Park (NWRSP) at Fort George is expected to begin within a matter of weeks, according to Social Development Minister Nelson McCausland.

The Minister said he was working closely with the NWRSP to deliver a 50,000-square-foot complex commercial and research centre in Londonderry as a satellite of the internationally acclaimed Northern Ireland Science Park (NISP).

He also mentioned plans for the delivery of a park-and-ride car park facility at Fort George which is scheduled to be completed by the end of February 2013.

But the Minister acknowledged the issue of remediation work that is expected to start on the site in spring 2013.

“The precise timescale for this work will, of course, be dependent on when the Northern Ireland Environment Agency (NIEA) agrees the remediation strategy for the site,” he told the Assembly.

Last year the Sentinel reported how a professional assessment conducted to support a major mixed use application for the site warned that due to its former use as a shipyard and military base traces of arsenic, asbestos, explosives and radioactive chemicals could potentially harm people and the environment.

The Sentinel reported how the multimillion pound decontamination of Fort George had been delayed by many months - until January 2013 at the earliest. Tenders for the proposed clean-up are due for return by the end of this month.

Mr McCausland said that Londonderry urban regeneration company Ilex submitted a development framework for Fort George to the Planning Service as an application for outline planning permission in July 2012. He said the consideration of the planning application was ongoing.

“The implementation of the development framework will involve infrastructure works and the engagement of private sector partners to construct the planned development. The Department plans to begin this implementation phase in 2014, when the remediation work is complete,” he stated.

Mr McCausland also said that the development framework application is being processed as another Article 31 project.

“This means that it is with DOE Planning Service headquarters for assessment, and I await the decision of the Minister of the Environment in that regard,” he stated.