The Stormont Environment Committee has agreed to carry out a review of river pollution incidents in Northern Ireland.
The committee voted to carry out the review in response to a request from South Antrim MLA Pam Cameron, who raised concerns about recent fish kills on several local rivers, including the Ballymartin and Three Mile Water.
The DUP representative, who is Deputy Chair of the Environment Committee, said: “It was my preference that the committee should undertake a Northern Ireland wide enquiry into river pollution, and this would include the areas affected in South Antrim.
“The Committee has agreed to go with a review, which is not a full enquiry, as we don’t have the physical time to carry out a full enquiry. A full enquiry requires so much time for consultation, and this would have been very tight to get it all completed.
“I feel it is important to have some sort of investigation now, and I am pleased that the review will be taking place.
“There will be another debate on the issue of river pollution, and we’ll be able to investigate the matter much more fully,” she explained.
Mrs Cameron stated that she had raised the issue of river pollution in South Antrim with the Environment Minister, Mark H Durkan, and there was the possibility of more funding being used to tackle the issue throughout Northern Ireland.
“The Minister said that the voluntary exit scheme has been successful in the Department of the Environment, and £3.3 million is expected to be freed up. There is the potential that more resources could be used to deal with the issue of river pollution to make a difference,” Mrs Cameron added.
A number of pollution incidents have affected rivers in the Newtownabbey area recently.
The Three Mile Water was affected by a major pollution incident on Tuesday, September 29. This incident killed hundreds of fish. This was just weeks after a major fish kill in the Ballymartin Water near Mallusk, when a pollutant was washed into the river, resulting in more than 1,500 trout, salmon and dollaghan being killed.
The Six Mile Water has also suffered from several pollution incidents and fish kills in recent years, with one of the most recent in October 2014 causing extensive destruction along a stretch of the waterway near Ballyclare.