Water pollution trend “concerning” – Claire Sugden

Independent MLA Claire Sugden has expressed concern that pollution discharges that exceed permitted limits are continuing to rise.

Ms Sugden questioned the Minister of Agriculture Environment and Rural Affairs, Edwin Poots, about the number of times and locations where wastewater discharges and pollution incidents breached Water Order Consent rules.

In 2019 there were 603 incidents – the highest number of the past five years.

“I would expect – or at least hope – that these figures would be going in the right direction,” Ms Sugden said. “It appears, however, that they are not improving and are even becoming more frequent.

“We are all custodians of the natural environment in Northern Ireland and have an obligation to look after it as best we can. Pollution, whether it be from private sewage, industrial discharge, site drainage discharges or from NI Water, can have a huge effect on animals and plants living in our waterways, and pose health risks for people such as fishermen.

“The rules and limits are there for a reason – to protect public health and the wider environment. I hope the minister is pursuing these cases and that those responsible are held to account.

“Regular testing is necessary to understand the scale of the problem we are facing,” Ms Sugden continued. “But all of us – members of the public, farmers and businesses – need to do our bit to help prevent pollution incidents and look after our waterways.”