The onus on the seven aspiring developers of the Shackleton base in Ballykelly is to prove they’ll create lots of jobs with Arlene Foster acknowledging the scoring for applicants is heavily biased towards employment creation.
She said seven proposals for the 621.5 acre site are currently in the process of being scored and that she hopes the patience of people in the North West will finally be rewarded next year when the development is scheduled to get underway.
Speaking in her capacity as Acting First Minister last week, she said: “I know that many in the North West have been waiting for a long time for this to happen.
“I can understand why they might wish it to happen more quickly than, perhaps, has been the case in the past, but we hope that the process will be completed by early 2016 and that we will then be able to move on to the development.
“Hopefully, it will be a very good news story for not just Ballykelly but the whole of the North West.”
The Minister also indicated that job creation will be by far the most important factor in deciding, which developers are given the go-ahead.
The amount of investment the developers are willing to pump in is also viewed as a priority but job creation is considered over four times as important as both the community and environmental benefits, for example.
“The preferred proposal, when it comes out the other side of the process, will have gone through very rigorous testing against the set criteria,” she said.
“Of the criteria set - job creation, the financial offer, community benefit and environmental benefits - job creation is given the highest weighting.
“It has 45 per cent of the weighting, and 35 per cent goes to the financial offer, 10 per cent to community benefit and 10 per cent to environmental benefits.
“Job creation and the difference that it will make to the area are key to deciding who the successful bidder will be and who will be able to develop the rest of the Shackleton site,” said the Minister.