T1. Mr McCrossan asked the Minister of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs, after associating himself with the comments to wish Minister Poots well and a speedy recovery and putting on record his sincere appreciation for the fact that Minister Poots visited Meenbog outside Castlederg following the slippage that caused huge difficulties, where they had a good meeting that he was glad to attend, for an update on the Department's work on the Meenbog landslide, specifically progress on the clean-up, work to confirm the root cause and work to prevent such a thing happening in future. (AQT 781/17-22)
I read some of the newspaper reports of the visit to Meenbog. It is only over the past 12 hours, however, that I have become much more tuned into the issues involved there.
I am happy to tell the Member that Loughs Agency staff are continuing their investigation into the recent major water pollution incident at Meenbog. The incident appears to be the result of significant slippage of an enormous quantity of peat and soil at the upper end of the catchment around the waterway. The nature and type of remedial measures will depend on the environmental assessments that are under way. Those include assessments and evaluations of water-quality data, fisheries, invertebrates and riverbed silt that will take some time to complete. It is, however, an issue that the Minister has taken on board and on which he has met his counterpart from the Republic of Ireland to discuss, so it is being worked on and taken forward by the Loughs Agency as a matter of priority.
I thank the Minister for her answer. I absolutely acknowledge that the Meenbog slippage was a catastrophe. It affected Killeter, Aghyaran, Castlederg, Ardstraw and the surrounding areas quite significantly. The meeting between Minister Poots and Minister McConalogue was very effective and showed a great sign of strength and unity on that cross-border issue.
Minister, one particular business was impacted on very badly by the slippage. I am not sure whether you will be aware, but will you update us now or at a further stage on whether there is any form of compensation that could help with the pressure that has been put on that business?
While I am aware of measures that the Loughs Agency is undertaking on the remedial issues that need to be resolved because of that, I am unaware of that particular business. I will, of course, ask officials from the Department to contact you to talk through the issue that is of interest to you.