Northern Ireland

'Eyesore' fence put up at nature reserve

Image caption Some of the concrete bases and fence-posts at Ballyquintin Point

Members of the public have criticised what they have described as an "eyesore" fence around the perimeter of a protected nature reserve.

Hundreds of concrete bases with fence-posts attached have been erected around Ballyquintin Point at the tip of the Ards Peninsula.

It is a national nature reserve and an area of special scientific interest.

The Environment Agency said the work is necessary for site management and the location of the fence is temporary.

Image caption Ballyquintin Point is right at the tip of the Ards Peninsula

But people who use the coastal reserve say it has spoiled their enjoyment of the area.

Ros Jamieson uses Ballyquintin Point regularly.

She said she was "horrified" when she saw what had been done.

Image caption The area is protected for its wide range of plants and other features

The Environment Agency said Ballyquintin Point was an important site for its geology, bird and plant life.

It said the reserve had to be grazed to stop scrub encroaching and the ponies they used had to be prevented from straying onto adjacent private land.

"Unfortunately in the past, traditional fencing has been continually damaged by coastal storm surges," a spokesman said.

Image caption The ponies being used to control scrub at the reserve

The agency said after consideration of several alternatives the "most durable" option had been chosen.

The concrete bases were chosen because one of the qualifying features of Ballyquintin Point is that it is a raised beach made up of cobbles.

The bases were placed on top to avoid driving the fence posts into the beach and damaging it.

Image caption More of the fence line at Ballyquintin

The agency said stiles would be erected along the fence line to provide access for the public.

A spokesman said the current location of the fence was temporary and it would be moved further back from the shore when a programme of scrub clearance had been done.