Minister Muir expressed his shock during visit to fish kill

Date published: 13 June 2024

A pollution incident that has killed hundreds of fish has been described as shocking by Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs Minister Andrew Muir.

DAERA Minister Andrew Muir

Following a visit to the scene of last night’s major incident on the Glenavy River, which is within the Lough Neagh catchment area, he said such incidents were happening with disturbing regularity.

The source of pollution is now the subject of an investigation by Northern Ireland Environment Agency (NIEA) Water Quality Inspectors.

Minister Andrew Muir said: "I am shocked at reports of a major fish kill in the Glenavy River. Pollution spills, whether intentional or accidental, are happening far too regularly - destroying our wildlife, causing huge damage to natural habitats and threatening our environment. This is the latest of 62 pollution incidents confirmed in this river since 2011 and the second large-scale fish kill in our rivers this year. We must do much better as a society when it comes to protecting our environment.

“Whilst the NIEA regulates and enforces current regulations to protect our environment, and my Department has allocated around £34k to enhancing water quality in Glenavy River over the last few years alone, more needs to be done and we must work together to ensure these types of incidents do not keep happening. I am increasing the budget to strengthen regulation and enhance enforcement, particularly in relation to water quality, and looking at how we can work with partners to increase fines and penalties to act as a deterrent whilst ensuring the polluter pays.

“I wish to thank those members of the public for reporting the pollution incident as soon as they became aware of it and thank NIEA inspectors who were on site within the hour. The quicker they can get on site, the more chance we have of finding the source and securing a conviction where appropriate. I encourage anyone who suspects a pollution incident to contact the Emergency Pollution Hotline on 0800 80 70 60 as soon as possible.”

A person found guilty of an offence under Article 7 of the Water (Northern Ireland) Order 1999 is liable on conviction to imprisonment for a term not exceeding three months or to a fine not exceeding £20,000 or to both.

Notes to editors: 

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