McGlone: Government action must be matched by investment to safeguard Lough Neagh

Patsy McGlone Lough Neagh

SDLP Mid Ulster MLA Patsy McGlone has said that investment is needed to protect Lough Neagh.

He was speaking as MLAs debated a Lough Neagh Rescue Plan in the Assembly on Tuesday.

Mr McGlone said there was a significant amount of work ahead to put the lough on a sustainable footing.

Mid Ulster MLA Mr McGlone said:

“It’s welcome that the perilous state of Lough Neagh has finally been addressed in the Assembly, following an SDLP recall motion earlier this year. The crisis at the lough, one of our most precious natural resources, caused outcry and while I appreciate the work that has been undertaken to stabilise things, there can be no doubt that the response was harmed by the absence of devolution.

“While I acknowledge that we will not fix the problems at the lough overnight, we don’t have any time to lose when it comes to putting a strategy in place that safeguards its future. The lough provides around 50% of our drinking water, is home to many plants and animals and without proper action we face an environmental disaster on a massive scale. There are also a number of businesses associated with the lough that have been impacted by the recent issues.

“The task force set up by DAERA has made over 100 recommendations including increasing enforcement in the vicinity of the lough and significant investment in NI Water to upgrade treatment works. I have asked the Minister to outline what progress has been made.

"The SDLP believes that one of they key measures to deliver sustainability at Lough Neagh will be taking it into public or community ownership. It’s regrettable that previous Ministers missed the opportunity to take this important step that could have avoided the situation we are dealing with today. If the Executive are serious about protecting the lough then they must make sure that proper oversight, accountability and funding are in place to respond to this ecological crisis.”

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