Action plan and independent EPA crucial to protecting our natural environment, says Blair, following Save Lough Neagh rally

Alliance Agriculture and Environment spokesperson John Blair MLA was speaking after attending the Save Lough Neagh rally in Belfast today (21 October), organised by Save Our Shores.

Environment John Blair lough neagh

The protest aimed to prompt urgent action from the relevant authorities such as DAERA, NIEA, and NI Water on tackling the ecological crisis still unfolding at Lough Neagh, and call for clarity around questions which still remain unanswered.


The South Antrim MLA said: “Again, on the streets of Belfast today, we have seen the strength of public feeling and the great amount of concern people have for the Lough Neagh environmental crisis clearly demonstrated.


It remains absolutely crucial that DAERA, NIEA, and other agencies with responsibility for the Lough, remain focused not only on dealing with the current very visible blue green algae issue, but also on both identifying the cause of the problem and working towards possible long-term solutions. The actions that have been promised to deal with this in the short term must also become a longer term inter-departmental action plan, led by DAERA, to ensure that we do better for the Lough, its vital ecosystems, and the local communities surrounding it.


It remains evident that a vital part of doing so is the creation of an independent Environmental Protection Agency, something which Alliance has long since been calling for, and has been previously committed to by all parties in New Decade New Approach. This would assist the urgently required review of all policies and practices which impact Lough Neagh and its ecosystems.


What we’ve heard today from campaigners and local environmental activists is stark reminder of how much more could be done and a lot more quickly if the DUP would get back to work and allow local ministers to prioritise local problems, scrutinised by but also working with the MLAs elected 18 months ago to serve Northern Ireland.”