Northern Ireland news

130 pollution incidents every year in rivers in Fermanagh and South Tyrone

The cliffs of Magho in Fermanagh leading down to Lough Erne 
John Monaghan

THERE are 130 recorded incidents of pollution in rivers and waterways in Fermanagh and South Tyrone every year, figures have shown.

There have been 656 confirmed cases of pollution in five years since 2011.

Although the figure for 2015 dropped slightly to 126 cases from a high of 149 the previous year, the number over the five year period has not decreased.

The numbers were released by Environment Minister Michelle McIlveen in response to a written question from SDLP Fermanagh and South Tyrone MLA Richie McPhillips.

Mr McPhillips said the incidents were having a detrimental effect on both agriculture and tourism in the area.

He told The Irish News: "Despite numerous public campaigns and advice given by the Environment Agency, the fact that pollution incidents have not decreased is a major issue of concern. These incidents pose significant risks to our local environment, including our local wildlife.

"The Fermanagh area is heavily reliant on both agriculture and the tourism. The effect of pollution on both sectors is deeply concerning. I have asked the minister to further detail where these incidents are occurring and whether those responsible have been reprimanded.

"The minister and the Executive also need to actively address this issue locally. They need to target individuals and businesses who are indiscriminately polluting our waterways."

It comes after more than 1,600 fish were killed after a chemical spill in a river in Co Down last month.

The Northern Ireland Environment Agency said it was investigating the incident after a chemical got into the water at Carrig River near Newcastle.

In March 2015 it emerged that fuel laundering had polluted more than half the north's rivers in a three year period.

Environment Agency workers were forced to deal with more than 60 pollution incidents at rivers in Northern Ireland since 2012 because of fuel laundering.

More than 40 waterways were affected.

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