An ongoing project to assess potential risks to the Faughan arising from illegal waste deposits has not been imperilled by a reduction in contracted out services announced by the Department of the Environment recenlty.
Environment Minister Mark H. Durkan says necessary short-term leachate management works and ongoing environmental monitoring are bought and paid for in his Department’s 2015/16 spending plan.
Green MLA Steven Agnew expressed concern that cuts could set back the Mobuoy Road clean-up.
He asked Mr Durkan whether the reduction set out at the Committee for the Environment on March 30 is likely to impact on environmental safeguarding of the River Faughan Special Area of Conservation from illegal landfilling at Mobuoy Road.”
Mr Durkan replied that it isn’t.
“The reduction of contracted out services as announced at the Environment Committee on the March 30, 2015 has no direct impact on the ongoing Mobuoy Road waste sites project initiated in January 2015 or indeed on the related environmental monitoring programmes in place to safeguard the River Faughan.
“In January 2015, my Department initiated a new project at the Mobuoy Waste sites that aims to; (i) further inform the potential risks arising from the illegal waste deposits to the environment including the Faughan River, (ii) implement necessary short-term leachate management works, (iii) implement a 12 month environmental monitoring and (iv) to identify potential remediation options to manage the environmental impacts with whole life costs.
“The budget to complete this particular project (including the environmental monitoring programme and the outstanding project tasks project) has been included in the Department’s spending plan for 2015/16.”
The Minister said work is ongoing in the Gorticross area and that steps have been taken in recent days to ensure that no more contaminated water leaches into a tributary of the Faughan.
“Project work is continuing as scheduled. For example, short-term leachate management works were undertaken and completed last week at both the City Industrial Waste site and Campsie Sand and Gravel site,” he explained.
“This work will reduce the risk of direct entry of leachate and leachate contaminated water as observed at the surface of the site to water quality in the tributary running along both sites that runs directly into the River Faughan,” said the Minister.
Mr Agnew also asked whether the scale of the illegal landfill is now considered to exceed the “estimated 516,000 tonne” but Mr Durkan said this was now sub judice.
“The specific detail as to the quantity, type and extent of the infilling that has occurred on the Mobouy Road forms part of the prosecution case. As this case is now before the court, it would be inappropriate to comment further at the present time.”