Millennium plans lose pounds 3m funding

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The Independent Online
The Millennium Commission has withdrawn funding from two projects - the first to be refused in such a way - because they have failed to meet the necessary conditions, it emerged yesterday.

The pounds 5m Millennium Markers scheme to attract more tourists to the river Thames has been halted, as has a pounds 1.4m plan to build a railway linking two popular tourist sites in Northern Ireland.

A spokesman for the Millen-nium Commission said it could not give the pounds 2.75m allocated to the Markers scheme because it was judged unviable. Plans to build a tourist railway between the Giant's Causeway and the Bushmills whiskey distillery have foundered because of land-acquisition problems.

The two schemes, which together were pledged pounds 3.45m of lottery money by the commission, are the first to have funding withdrawn.

The riverside scheme would have seen 10 markers and visitor centres placed along the Thames from Kew Gardens to Hampton Court.

The spokesman said: "The commission is spending public money and has to be sure a project is going to happen. That's why we allocate the money and sign legal documents to make sure that the money has been spent wisely."

In Northern Ireland, the railway proposal could not proceed because land needed for the project could not be bought.

The spokesman said money pledged to the two projects would be allocated elsewhere.