Derry environment should be an election issue: activist

Paul Hughes.
Paul Hughes.

Community activist and campaigner, Paul Hughes, has expressed anger and frustration over what he described as the neglect of Derry’s environment and has urged voters to ask canvassers what they’re going to do to clean-up Mobuoy, safeguard the River Faughan, and improve local recycling rates, during the election campaign ahead.

Mr. Hughes, who stood as an independent candidate in the Faughan District Electoral Area in the 2014 council elections, claimed the ongoing Renewable Heating Initiative (RHI) scandal, which toppled the Executive, was a fitting metaphor for how Northern Ireland doesn’t follow best practice when it comes to the environment.

“RHI was a good scheme,” Mr. Hughes told this paper.

“All they had to do was follow the model and the criteria that they had in England but they didn’t and they messed that up.”

Mr. Hughes claimed the formation, implementation and enforcement of environmental policy across the North hasn’t been good enough.

“Derry City and Strabane is lagging behind every other council area in the North when it comes to recycling,” he said.

“Over half of the brown food waste bins issued are not been used and contamination of the blue bin recyling waste remains a big problem, resulting in large amounts of waste that could be recycled, been sent to landfill,” he added.

Illegal waste at Mobuoy also remains an open sore, while Mr. Hughes is concerned about the purity of Derry’s drinking water and said work still needs to be done to protect that.

“Minister McIlveen said the next stage in the Mobuoy Remediation Strategy at the 47 hectare site is ‘to develop a costed remediation strategy detailing the remediation treatments that must be implemented at the site to meet clean up targets and thus protect the River Faughan and the wider environment,’” said Mr. Hughes.

The community campaigner called on voters to make the environment a live election issue.

“Be sure to challenge those seeking your vote when they come to your door on all of these issues. What will they do to advance the clean up of Mobuoy and protect the River Faughan and the citys drinking water supplies?” asked Mr. Hughes.

“What will they do to ensure Derry improves its recyling records? And what will they do to ensure that Derry becomes Ireland’s first Zero Waste City, setting an example to everywhere else?” he asked prospective voters.