Green Party NI: If Lough Neagh can't be protected, then nothing is sacred

October 01, 2020 2 min read

Lough Neagh

Monday 01 October 2020

Green Party NI leader Clare Bailey MLA has described Infrastructure Minister Nichola Mallon's decision to approve planning for Lough Neagh sand extraction as an appalling assault on ecology and our environment, adding that if the Lough is allowed to be dug out and destroyed, then nothing is sacred.

Clare Bailey MLA said: "Lough Neagh is an Area of Special Scientific Interest, the largest lake in the British Isles and was once the most important bird reserve in Britain and Ireland.

"It is estimated that 1.5million tonnes of sand has been dredged to date, which is thought to have had a devastating impact on the entire ecosystem of the lough. 

"If companies are permitted dig out and destroy a site as important as Lough Neagh, then nothing is sacred.

"Northern Ireland is disintegrating into an environmental wasteland and it's under the watch of Executive parties that give us all of the soundbites about addressing climate breakdown and the ecological crisis, but none of the substance.

"Minister Mallon has shown a lack of courage and conviction with this decision, which is at odds with the approach of party colleague and former Environment Minister, Mark H Durkan, who issued an enforcement notice to Lough Neagh dredgers previously. 

"Lough Neagh has been at the mercy of the dredgers for years, with no department taking responsibility for managing and developing the Lough and preserving, maintaining and re-establishing its habitat as per the EU Birds Directive."

Clare Bailey MLA concluded:

"This entire episode shows why an Independent Environmental Protection Agency is much needed for Northern Ireland. We're crying out for an oversight body with the power and independence to address environmental destruction and step in when Executive Ministers stand idly by and Northern Ireland descends into an environmental wasteland."


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