SDLP MLAs have today submitted a petition to recall the Northern Ireland Assembly to consider practical steps that can be taken to address the ecological crisis unfolding on Britain and Ireland’s largest freshwater lake.
The SDLP is proposing the nomination of Ministers to urgently establish an independent Environmental Protection Agency with robust enforcement powers to address pollution, the impact of invasive species and the durability of the North’s waste water infrastructure.
The party is also calling for a short term mitigation plan to address the immediate effects of ecological breakdown on the Lough alongside a long term recovery strategy.
Speaking after submitting a motion to the Assembly Business Office today, SDLP Assembly Leader Matthew O’Toole MLA said:
“The ecological crisis unfolding in front of our eyes on Lough Neagh is a catastrophe on a level that far outstrips any other we’re facing right now. It demands intense, coordinated and cooperative action at every level in response.
“The impact of blue green algae, caused by a toxic mix of agricultural runoff, invasive species, waste water treatment capacity and higher temperatures, is suffocating Britain and Ireland’s largest freshwater lake. It poses an unique and critical threat to biodiversity, animal and human health that we have to work together to address.
“Political leaders have an obligation and an opportunity to set aside our differences and work together in the substantial common interests of our people and our environment. I understand that the choice is unenviable for some but the alternative - doing nothing - will condemn the lough, the people who rely on it and future generations.
“We are urging all political parties to agree to recall the institutions to address the crisis and to show people that we can work together to meet the needs of our people and our planet."