SDLP calls for urgent response to Lough Neagh crisis

environment matthew o'toole Patsy McGlone Lough Neagh

The SDLP has called for an urgent response to the worsening crisis at Lough Neagh.

SDLP representatives met with the Northern Ireland Environment Agency (NIEA) on Tuesday to discuss the issues with the lough following a request by SDLP Mid Ulster MLA Patsy McGlone.

The presence of blue-green algae in the water has contributed to an environmental disaster at the lough.

SDLP Mid Ulster MLA Patsy McGlone said:

“I requested today’s meeting so that we could press NIEA for answers on the current situation at the lough and ask what steps they are taking to address this crisis. We have seen wildlife killed, businesses who use the lough impacted and people unable to swim or take part in water-based activities due to this toxic algae bloom. The situation has caused huge concern locally and across the North, with people unable to believe the state the Lough is currently in.

“We asked a number of serious questions of the NIEA today around who is responsible for managing this situation, what talks have been held with DAERA to address it and if the current ownership issues around the lough have in any way contributed to this environmental disaster. Lough Neagh is a wonderful natural resource, it supplies 40% of the North’s drinking water and is so important for biodiversity here. This situation has been allowed to drift for far too long and while I am glad these issues are finally getting the attention they deserve, what we need now is answers and a clear strategy of where we go from here to resolve this crisis.”

SDLP Stormont Leader Matthew O’Toole said:

“It’s long past time that we treat the developing disaster at Lough Neagh with the seriousness it deserves. The SDLP has been pressing the NIEA and DAERA for answers from the beginning of this crisis and it’s clear that the only way we’re going to address the issues at the lough is with a joined-up approach involving all stakeholders taking immediate action to address the current situation before it gets any worse and with long-term steps to safeguard the future of the lough.

“The SDLP has already called for the establishment of a Lough Neagh taskforce, there can be no further delay with the very future of one of our most important natural resources at risk. We must consider every option available to us, including bringing the lough into public ownership so that we have proper accountability around the lough with no doubt around who is responsible for its upkeep.”

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