Northern Ireland Faces Environmental Catastrophe: All Rivers Polluted, Iconic Lough Neagh Suffers Ecological Collapse…

As the aul rebel song went, ‘Only our rivers run free’. Well, it seems not even our rivers have much freedom these days.

A new report from the Rivers Trust shows what a dire situation our waterways are in.

Via Niamh Campbell in the Beltel:

Not one stretch of river in Northern Ireland has managed to meet ‘good’ overall status, while Lough Neagh is an “ecological disaster”, according to the latest report from the Rivers Trust.
The environmental charity has just released its 2024 edition of the State of Our Rivers report, which has forecast that Lough Neagh will be polluted again this summer by blue-green algae, also known as toxic cyanobacteria.

Earlier this month, the Northern Ireland Environment Agency confirmed two reports of cyanobacteria at Cranfield Point on the north shore of the lough and Reas Wood in Antrim.

According to the report, 100% of river stretches in Northern Ireland failed to meet ‘good’ overall status, and 12% were given either poor or bad overall status.

There were 450 river stretches here measured, and almost 70% failed to meet the requirements for good ecological status, with just two reaching high ecological status.

Six major rivers run into Lough Neagh, and all rivers surveyed were given a moderate chemical status, while none achieved high status. Toxic chemicals in the water from plastic and the presence of mercury in animal and plant life were common contributors to rivers failing to meet high status.

Agriculture and land management emerged as significant contributors to nutrient pollution, affecting nearly 300 of the Northern Ireland river stretches assessed. Other main pollutants come from sewage, urban run-off — or ‘storm drain pollution’ — and industrial activities. All are exacerbated by increasing water and land temperatures, as well as more frequent severe weather events such as prolonged, heavy rain leading to flooding and periods of drought, as stated by the findings.

Rivers Trust all-Ireland director Mark Horton said Lough Neagh is “now cited worldwide as a stark reminder of how escalating external pressures on water quality, underpinned by inadequate governance, can quickly combine to create the perfect ecological disaster”.

The core issues seem to be:

  • Agricultural pollution
  • Lack of monitoring of polluters and poor enforcement of environmental laws
  • Lack of ownership and responsibility especially around Lough Neagh.

You can read the full report here. 

Don’t worry I am sure our Executive will spring into action to resolve this issue.

Or the farming lobby will exert pressure on them and they will do bugger all…

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