Lough Neagh

Part of Oral Answers to Questions — Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs – in the Northern Ireland Assembly at 3:15 pm on 4th May 2021.

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Photo of Edwin Poots Edwin Poots DUP 3:15 pm, 4th May 2021

Lough Neagh is a huge asset and, I believe, an underutilised one. I have said that from my early days of visiting Lough Neagh at Antrim or Oxford Island. I would love to see Lough Neagh more utilised. It is the largest body of fresh water in the United Kingdom.

We have tremendous opportunities from the agri-environment side to reduce pollution in Lough Neagh. It has faced problems with eutrophication in previous years, and that starving of oxygen in the water undermines what we are capable of doing on the Lough Neagh waterways. It is important that we do everything that we can to ensure that Lough Neagh has clean waterways and that the land around it is low in phosphates in particular.

There is much that we can do through my green growth strategy to ensure that we have a better management system for slurry so that a lot less slurry is spread in generations to come. That is my big aim. I want us to move to the anaerobic digestion of slurry materials and separation and then pelletise the phosphates as opposed to land-spreading it. We do our lidar assessments, and we do our checks of nutrients in the soil and ensure that what is applied is applied appropriately. That would be of great assistance to Lough Neagh.