East Londonderry MP Gregory Campbell has welcomed news that the start of building the new Department of Agriculture and Rural Development Headquarters in Ballykelly in his constituency is due to commence now that a contractor is about to be appointed.
He said “I am delighted that following Planning approval last week by Causeway Coast and Glens Council, the process for an appointment of a contractor can begin, with work on starting to build the new DARD Headquarters in Ballykelly becoming a reality within the next few months.
This is good news not only for Ballykelly but for the wider North West region.
“A number of years ago I lobbied for a rural area in my constituency being considered as a location for the new Headquarters for the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development; following the former DARD Minister’s announcement that the Department would be moving out of Belfast.
“At the time I invited the then First Minister Peter Robinson MLA to visit the site when it was about to be sold off for a minimal return in terms of employment. Thankfully he saw the massive potential of the location and that disposal was postponed in order to get a much more realistic development package for the area, including the hundreds of DARD jobs.
“Last week we had more good news when the local company MJM Renewables Group bought the former Shackleton Barracks with plans to create over 100 jobs initially. Together with the 600 jobs once the DARD Headquarters transition is complete by the end of 2017, this will lead to increased spending in the local and rural economy through the use of services and to other employment opportunities including the construction sector. It should also present an opportunity to create an agri-business sector in the region.
“The progression towards the construction of one of Northern Ireland Government Department’s and other job creation announcements on this site and this region are positive news in an area that has seen major public sector job losses in recent years. This will help rebalance the Northern Ireland Economy in an area of high unemployment by providing good quality public sector jobs and other employment opportunities.
“The recent announcements have the potential to provide a catalyst for more investment in the future. I and my Party colleagues will continue to be proactive in our efforts to bring more sustainable jobs to East Londonderry.”