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Ballyhornan Beach: Environmental Health

Oral Answers to Questions — Environment – in the Northern Ireland Assembly at 2:30 pm on 13th October 2015.

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Photo of Christopher Hazzard Christopher Hazzard Sinn Féin 2:30 pm, 13th October 2015

T6. Mr Hazzard asked the Minister of the Environment whether he and his Department are aware of the environmental health issues at Ballyhornan beach, given that he will know that, although we have corresponded about the recent marine litter survey, which was quite damning about the environmental health of beaches at Ardglass, Kilkeel and Ballyhornan on the south Down coast, in response, there seems to have been a departmental focus on the good beaches around Newcastle, Murlough, Tyrella and Cranfield. (AQT 2986/11-16)

Photo of Mark Durkan Mark Durkan Social Democratic and Labour Party

I thank the Member for the question. I am familiar with the marine litter survey. My Department has been active, along with the council, which retains ultimate responsibility for beach cleanliness, in working on all beaches in the south Down area. Where there are specific issues on specific beaches, I would be happy to meet the Member and have my officials meet their council counterparts to devise ways in which those can be best tackled.

In Ardglass, which is in the Member's constituency, a lot of work has been done with the fishermen. My Department continues to fund the Fishing for Litter scheme, which has had an impact on reducing the litter washing ashore on the beautiful beaches of south Down. I know that the Member has a particular interest in this, and, being familiar with the natural beauty of south Down, I cannot blame him.

A Member:

Is that Margaret?

Photo of Mark Durkan Mark Durkan Social Democratic and Labour Party

It is not Margaret.

[Laughter.]

Photo of Christopher Hazzard Christopher Hazzard Sinn Féin

I am sure that Margaret will be delighted to hear that.

[Laughter.]

I thank the Minister for that answer, but, when it comes to Ballyhornan, there is a specific reference to the continual pumping of raw sewage into the sea. That would not be accepted on the gold coast of north Down. Why should the people of south Down have to accept raw sewage being pumped into our sea?

Photo of Mark Durkan Mark Durkan Social Democratic and Labour Party

I thank the Member for that supplementary. I have undertaken to work on this with him, the council and other Departments that clearly have an interest in and responsibility for addressing and eradicating the issue.

I do not know where in DRD's plans there might be plans to upgrade the pumping system there. However, if we can lend support to locals in that area in lobbying DRD, we will certainly do so, given the negative environmental impact that this clearly has.