Northern Ireland news

Concern as boat sinks further on Strangford Lough

A boat began sinking in Portaferry harbour with around 1,000 litres of diesel onboard. Picture from BBC

AN assembly member has called for urgent action after a boat carrying diesel sank further into Strangford Lough.

The vessel, containing up to 1,000 litres of fuel, began sinking in January after being tied up at the quayside in Portaferry for more than a year.

Ards and North Down Borough Council previously called in consultants to manage the diesel spill.

But Alliance MLA Kellie Armstrong last night claimed the boat had sunk even further, with fears of further damage to the environment.

"Strangford Lough is environmentally sensitive," she said.

"Gallons of diesel contained in this boat have already leaked out into the lough. Now planks of wood and debris from the ship are being washed up along the Portaferry shoreline."

Ms Armstrong said Ards and North Down borough council had been in contact with the boat's owner, but this was of "little comfort to residents and to those with boats moored at Portaferry".

"At the behest of Ards and North Down borough council, the local volunteer coastguard have collected a huge amount of debris that can now be seen at Cook Street Quay," she said.

"The amount of floating rubbish from the ship has the potential to damage moored boats.

"Easter weekend is also the start of tourist season in Portaferry, as many people bring their boats to be moored in the quay.

"An incident like this, particularly if it is left untreated, could result in a number of potential tourists deciding to go elsewhere."

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