Lough Neagh: Green Algae

Oral Answers to Questions — Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs – in the Northern Ireland Assembly at 3:15 pm on 13 May 2024.

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Photo of Patsy McGlone Patsy McGlone Social Democratic and Labour Party 3:15, 13 May 2024

T1. Mr McGlone asked the Minister of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs whether he is aware of the emergence of green algae on Lough Neagh, including at about 1 foot beneath the surface of the water. (AQT 271/22-27)

Photo of Andrew Muir Andrew Muir Alliance

I thank the Member for his question. I am indeed, and that is why we need to move at pace on the issues with Lough Neagh. In the time ahead, I will continue to engage with my Executive colleagues on the adoption of an environmental improvement plan for Northern Ireland, because we need to take a strategic approach to the matter. However, we also need to take actions on the ground. Whilst I will continue to want to engage with colleagues in order to agree that environmental improvement plan for Northern Ireland, there is urgency on the issue. I will make announcements over the weeks ahead.

Photo of Patsy McGlone Patsy McGlone Social Democratic and Labour Party

Thank you for that, Minister. Can you advise whether there is any allocated budget for Lough Neagh recovery?

Photo of Andrew Muir Andrew Muir Alliance

I bid for resource and capital funding for that. I received £1·6 million of capital but did not receive any resource. The budget allocation to my Department was disappointing, but I am not going to stop there. I am engaging with officials to see where we can reallocate resources in the Department so that we can put the necessary resources into that area. It will not be all that I want. I will make significant bids in the monitoring round and to transformation funding, because this is a key priority for me. We need to invest in and turn the situation at Lough Neagh around. I will see how we can reprioritise things in my Department in order to ensure that we can get a better future for the people, users and businesses around Lough Neagh.