Using a process known as hydroseeding, the top of the 50m-long concrete structure has been sown out with a mixture of indigenous coastal seeds to provide a soft green area, offering a more attractive view for overlooking properties and providing a natural habitat for local birds and insects.

Welcoming the move, Northern Ireland’s Regional Development Minister Danny Kennedy said: “The Mournes area is one of the most spectacular landscapes in Northern Ireland and all efforts to maintain its beauty and eco-friendliness are to be commended.

“It is important to protect our valuable scenic coastline and Newcastle Wastewater Treatment Works now blends in more with the natural surroundings.”

NI Water has used the process twice before at its Fofanny Water Treatment Works and Kircubbin Wastewater Treatment Works in Northern Ireland.

According to NI Water, the aim of the project was to minimise the visual impact of a large concrete structure on the shoreline which is located at the Mournes Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

In addition, the company claims it has enhanced the ecological value of the area by providing a herb-rich coastal grassland habitat for plants, insects and birds.

The extended treatment works has also been equipped with a new Ultra-Violet (UV) treatment stream which is due to be brought on line at the end of May 2013.

The works will deliver an improved standard of discharge to local bathing waters in line with future European Directives and overall work at Newcastle Wastewater Treatment Works should be completed in September, with commissioning, testing and monitoring procedures continuing until the end of the year.

Conor McGlone

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