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Partnership the key in preventing water pollution - Poots

Thursday, 15 October 2009

Environment Minister Edwin Poots today visited the Six Mile Water River at Mallusk to view an ongoing pollution prevention programme championed by Northern Ireland Environment Agency (NIEA).

NIEA has been working, in conjunction with a number of stakeholders to reduce the incidence of water pollution throughout Northern Ireland, concentrating its efforts in particular in ongoing problematic areas such as the Six Mile Water River.

Speaking after his visit the Minister said: “The Six Mile Water and the rivers which flow into it have been affected by pollution on a number of occasions over the past few years, some of which have had a devastating effect. However, I welcome that the ongoing actions by NIEA have resulted in a reduction in the number of confirmed water pollution incidents in the Six Mile Water River catchment.”

NIEA has implemented a series of measures including pollution prevention inspections and site drainage examinations as part of its pollution prevention programme in the area.

The Agency is working closely with anglers, industry and other local interest groups, to establish a River Trust on the Six Mile Water. River Trusts have been very successful in England in turning around pollution-affected rivers and work by engaging anglers, industry and other stakeholders in ownership of the entire river corridor and adopting a co operative approach to improve river quality.

Welcoming this partnership approach to pollution prevention the Minister said: “This responsible approach between the NIEA, local businesses and interest groups will help towards achieving the water quality we expect from the river.”

The Minister concluded by appealing to people who work or live close to a river or lake to remain vigilant to ensure no polluting matter is allowed to escape and pollute our waters. He said: “It is not just oil or chemicals poured down a drain which can have a devastating effect. Sewage effluent, silage liquor, slurry and milk are also substances that can pollute our rivers and cause fish kills.

“We have a 24:7 Water Pollution Hotline, 0800 80 70 60, and I would strongly encourage anyone who suspects or comes across a pollution incident to use this Freephone number to trigger an investigation.

“Water pollution is a crime and like any other crime prevention is better than cure.”

Notes to editors:

1. The Six Mile Water, and its tributaries, have been affected by pollution on a number of occasions over the past few years, some of which have attracted a high level of attention and dissatisfaction amongst local residents, anglers and stakeholders.

2. NIEA has taken a range of actions to minimise the risk of pollution to the Six Mile Water and its tributaries.

3. NIEA currently carry out compliance checks with existing consented industrial premises and infrastructure in the Six Mile Water River catchment area.

4. NIEA maintains the Water Pollution Hotline – freephone 0800 80 70 60 to encourage the reporting of suspected pollution incidents, this operates on a 24-hour, 365 days-a-year basis.

5. NIEA is working closely with Rivers Agency and with the Department of Culture, Arts and Leisure to draw up a river restoration scheme for the Blackwater River, Ballymartin River and the Six Mile Water River.

6. All media inquiries should be directed to the Department of Environment Press Office on 028 9054 0003. Out of office hours please contact the duty press officer via pager number 07699 715 440 and your call will be returned