A series of additional conditions, laid down by the DOE to ensure the short-term future of Exploris, have been approved by Ards Borough Council.
At a meeting last night it was agreed to extend the stay on closure for a further two months and to re-examine the council’s business case in relation to the Portaferry aquarium.
Earlier this year it was proposed that the facility would close for a major refurbishment – to include investment in new exhibits and enhanced visitor facilities.
Under plans to make it a sustainable operation, the aquarium will continue to be owned and managed by the council, but with expenditure reduced from around £500,000 each year to £200,000.
However, the reduced running costs are only possible with a commitment from central government to include revenue from the DOE, together with a substantial one-off capital grant of approximately £900,000, a council spokeswoman said.
The council will submit a final version of the business case and plan to DOE next week for consideration by the Executive in April.