SDLP assemblyman John Dallat has urged environment officials to come clean about the number of complaints received about the spreading of residuals from water treatment works.
The request from the East Derry MLA follows his question to the Minister for Regional Development to detail the number of complaints his Department has received from the Northern Ireland Environment Agency and the public and others, in relation to the spreading of material from Water Treatment Works; and what plans there are to address this issue.
The answer given to Mr. Dallat from the minister was: “My Department has not received any complaints in relation to the spreading of material from Water Treatment Works. I am advised by Northern Ireland Water (NIW) that the residuals from the water treatment process are no longer spread on land owned by it but disposed of to licensed landfill sites. In the past two years NIW received only one complaint from a member of the public about the practice of spreading water treatment residuals on its land.”
However, Mr. Dallat said anyone living in the Limavady area will be “truly amazed by this response”.
“Over the last two years there has been outrage about this practice and serious questions raised about compliance. I have witnessed convoys of large lorries delivering this material to farms and I have seen it stockpiled for days before being spread on the land. I have correspondence from NIEA admitting that there have been breaches of the regulations and yet the Department responsible for NIEA don’t appear to know what is happening on their doorstep – truly amazing!” he said.
“The current practice which is carried out by contractors brought in from Scotland is unacceptable and people are bracing themselves for another onslaught during the school holidays when children need to be out playing and enjoying fresh air. They certainly don’t want a repeat of the past when their break from school was entirely ruined.
“There are serious issues about this practice which need to addressed and not least the impact it could have on the food chain. Behaving like ostriches and pretending there have been no complaints is being disingenuous to me and offensive to my constituents.”