Council Call-In Initiated On Lough Neagh Ecosystem Damage

People Before Profit Cllr Shaun Harkin said, 
“Encouraged by environmental activists and climate campaigners we initiated a Call-in to challenge the admissibility of an amendment to our October motion stripping out a call for the Council to object to Minister Nichola Mallon’s decision on Lough Neagh and to support efforts to reverse it. 
The decision to greenlight continued industrial dredging of Lough Neagh sets an extremely bad precedent for planning and environmental regulations. Friends of the Earth called the minister’s decision “a mockery of our environmental designations and our protections.” 
It undermines our Climate Emergency declaration and pledge. It sends a clear signal that Stormont will continue to tolerate ‘business as usual’ when it comes to environmental damage. The illegal Mobuoy dump, efforts to mine the Sperrins, a continued push on fracking and Lough Neagh dredging are among the cutting edge climate battles right now. 
Our Council’s corporate position is to protect our environmental ecosystem and support radical action to stop climate change. Our climate motions were passed in the aftermath of millions of people here and around the world participating in the student led climate strikes – and are not meant to be symbolic gestures to be trampled upon whenever it suits government.
The Wildlife and Natural Environment Act (Northern Ireland) 2011, in particular article 31, makes clear it is an offence to permit operations damaging any feature of an Area of Special Scientific Interest (ASSI). The entirety of Lough Neagh is an Area of Special Scientific Interest. Extraction that damages the ecosystem of Lough Neagh under the act would be deemed a criminal offence. Our Council should have no truck endorsing this.”
People Before Profit motion to October full Council:
Council notes with great disappointment the decision of Infrastructure Minister Nichola Mallon to grant continued commercial dredging of the European protected area Lough Neagh. Environmental campaigners Friends of the Earth said, “The minister’s decision has made a mockery of our environmental designations and our protections.” This decision amounts to an assault on our ecology that will, if unchecked, lead to an environmental wasteland. Council will write to the Minister expressing our objection on the basis of our Climate Emergency Declaration and Pledge. Council will support efforts to reverse the decision. Council will invite representatives from Friends of the Earth and the Environmental Gathering for a presentation on the ramifications of this decision.  

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