Minister Durkan today announced ambitious plans to improve our local rivers and lakes.
He also announced the first programme of measures from his Marine Strategy for Northern Irish waters to ensure that our marine waters progress towards good environmental status by 2020.
The Minister launched the second set of River Basin Management Plans for Northern Ireland and hopes to secure significant improvements to our water bodies so that up to 70% will meet the European Commission’s standards for good ecological status by 2021, which would make us among the best in Europe.
Measures in the plans include:
- planned multi-million pound investment by NI Water in sewage infrastructure to increase capacity and effectiveness of waste water treatment in NI;
- the multi-million pound agricultural Environmental Farming Scheme to improve water quality and the wider environment;
- a new Nitrates Action Programme with training and support from CAFRE for farmers to help reduce diffuse pollution from agricultural sources;
- the development of Catchment Improvement Projects in partnership with stakeholders and local communities.
Mark H Durkan said: “River Basin Planning is about taking an integrated approach to the protection, improvement and sustainable use of the water environment, from source to sea.
“We all depend on our water environment, whether it is the source of our drinking water, or for agricultural or business purposes, for recreational use or to attract tourists.
“These plans aim to provide a clean and healthy water environment and will help us to achieve better water quality, less pollution and more fish in our rivers. This will deliver considerable benefits for everyone.”
Acknowledging the support and contributions made by his fellow Ministers, the Minister said: “The Executive has agreed that it is important that the new plans are implemented. After all, it is in all our interests that we take responsibility for the care of our water to ensure we get the water environment we deserve.”
Referring to action on our marine waters Mark H Durkan continued: “I am pleased to announce our first programme of measures to protect and ensure the sustainable use of our marine area. It includes measures to protect marine life and habitats, deliver improved water quality while addressing the problem of marine litter and noise. The programme marks the development of an integrated, cross-departmental approach to managing our marine area which has been a major step forward over the last five years.”