Lough Neagh action plan due before Executive this week

Lough Neagh's plight last summer was visible from space
-Credit: (Image: Copernicus Open Access Hub)


The long-awaited action plan to restore and protect Lough Neagh is due to go before the Northern Ireland Executive next week, it is understood.

Belfast Live reported recently that they have still not approved the environment strategy that has been on their desks since March on which many of the actions might rely.

But with toxic blue-green algae now returning to the lough and amid growing concerns around water pollution and enforcement in Northern Ireland, ministers will be asked to consider the Lough Neagh plan on Thursday.

Read more: Lough Neagh algae warning issued as slurry from thousands of farms enters water

Read more: Executive decision holding up environmental plan that could help Lough Neagh

While we have not yet had sight of the document, we understand it will be broken down into four pillars based around education; investment and incentives; regulation and enforcement.

DAERA Minister Andrew Muir was quizzed on his plans to tackle water pollution in Northern Ireland by his department's oversight committee on Thursday. He told them he has asked officials "to commence work to reverse" a law change that lowered penalties for farmers who were repeat pollution offenders that was put in place by Edwin Poots in 2022.

"It's important that as minister I show leadership," he added.

"For anyone who is contravening environmental legislation this is a clear message from me.

"As Minister, there's going to be more chance you are going to get caught and I will be reviewing the sentencing framework in terms of the penalties around that. And that applies to everyone.

"I have made it clear in terms of the arrangements that are place in terms of the Northern Ireland Environment Agency and Northern Ireland Water [in relation to the lack to investment in NI Water which could mean no action on pollution incidents].

"I think we need to call time on that."

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