Cllr Cadogan Enright has rejected claims made by the Minister of the Environment, Sammy Wilson, in the Assembly chamber (29.10.08) that local people did not contact the relevant agencies when pollution was discovered in the Quoile River, Co. Down in August 2008 which resulted in a massive fish kill.
Cllr Cadogan Enright said: “The Minister must be a desperate man when the only point he can raise regarding the Quoile River is an attack on myself and local anglers. I was called out of a council meeting chaired by Cllr Doris on the Thursday evening by fellow members of the Downpatrick Anglers Association and went to the river. The Fishery Conservation Board had already been contacted by club members, and reported back to councillors still at the meeting that there was no problem. We kept up the pressure on the FCB, NIEA and over the next few days even tried to involve the health officers of Down District Council.”
Cllr Enright continued, “Myself and fellow councillors even walked the banks of the river over the weekend with Sammy Wilsons NIEA staff showing them the scene of the crime. Minister Sammy will be denying Global Warming next – OH! I forgot, he has already done that!. The Angling club is even in possession of a letter from Sammy’s fellow minister Margaret Ritchie confirming that she contacted all the agencies in response to our concerns.”
Angling club Chairman Trevor Love said “The Minister has criticized us for taking photos and videos of the carnage – but we were able to use the pictures to confound his own staff in their down-playing of the incident.
The photographs mentioned by the Minister were used to refute the initial assertion by NIEA and the FCB that there was no problem, or it was a minor natural event. It appears that the NIEA and Minister Sammy Wilson are more interested in shooting the messenger than finding the truth.”
Cllr Enright has been critical of the Environment Agency’s official report into the fish kill which admits that relevant stretches of the river was not investigated following the pollution incident which killed thousands of fish and seriously damaged the area’s biodiversity.
Cllr Enright said: “The Environment Agency’s official report into the pollution of the Quoile River highlights the inability of this Agency to get to the bottom of pollution incidents. The Agency admits in the report that it did not test the area up-stream of the Belfast Road in Downpatrick and did not cover the Plank Drain behind ASDA and McDonalds on the Ballyduggan Road.
“This is the very area which caused most concern to local anglers and environmentalist. No fish died above this point and have written to the NIEA asking them to investigate the Rivers Agency. We believe that this was where the evidence in the case could have been detected and are concerned about a build-up of toxic mud at the Belfast Road Bridge concluded Cadogan Enright.”
Down District Council is currently writing to the Minister and the NIEA to ask why this area was not included in the investigation.