T1. Ms Flynn asked the Minister of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs whether, following his written response last week to her colleague Paul Maskey in which the Minister shared her party’s serious concern about the foul and offensive odour coming from the Mullaghglass landfill site, which residents have been living with for years, he can commit to looking into the possibility of closing the site and launching an independent investigation. (AQT 1351/17-22)
Yes, I have plans to visit the site in the near future. I recognise that there have been a substantial number of complaints from the residents in that area. I believe that it is not a tolerable situation, so I want to ensure that either we get on top of the odour problem or we look at the suspension of activities at the site.
I thank the Minister for his response, and I am glad to hear that he is going out on a site visit. In his letter, he mentioned that the health implications were of the utmost concern to him. Although the Public Health Agency (PHA) has advised that unpleasant smells are not known to be harmful to health, the PHA has also said that persistent odours can cause headaches and nausea and that extreme smells and unpleasant odours can lead to mental health issues. All of those effects have been reported from local residents. What is the Minister's opinion on the assertion that there are health implications for residents? Will the Minister give a firm assurance that he will try to get this sorted?
I cannot make a statement on the health implications, because it is the Public Health Agency that gives the advice and the Health Minister who makes those statements. I hear what people are saying, and we will pass that information on to the Department of Health and the Public Health Agency for their further investigation, but my Department has to take the advice from the experts in public health.