Armstrong calls for action to prevent further environmental damage to lough

Alliance MLA Kellie Armstrong has called for immediate action to prevent further damage to the environment in Strangford Lough, after a boat moored there sank further.

The boat, which had been at the quay in Portaferry for over a year, initially sank in January, causing concerns over the leaking of diesel into the lough. The vessel has now sunk even further, with Strangford MLA Ms Armstrong saying there could be damage to not only the environment but the local tourism industry.

“Strangford Lough is environmentally sensitive. Gallons of diesel contained in this boat have already leaked out into the Lough. Now planks of wood and debris from the ship are being washed up along the Portaferry shoreline.

“The Council has confirmed they are in contact with the owner but that is giving little comfort to residents and to those with boats moored at Portaferry. At the behest of Ards and North Down Borough Council, the local volunteer coastguard have collected a huge amount of debris that can now be seen at Cook Street Quay. The Council were supposed to remove it but as of today piles of planks, mattress and other rubbish lies uncollected. The amount of floating rubbish from the ship has the potential to damage moored boats. I call upon the owner to do the right thing and remove it before further damage is caused.

“Easter weekend is also the start of tourist season in Portaferry, as many people bring their boats to be moored in the quay. An incident like this, particularly if it is left untreated, could result in a number of potential tourists deciding to go elsewhere.

“I have repeatedly asked the local Council to take action but to no avail. The Council has permitted the ship to remain moored in Portaferry for far too long. It’s time further formal action is taken against the owner to remove this ship. I have also spoken to the Northern Ireland Environmental Agency and hope they will help resolve the situation. Otherwise the local environment, residents and tourist industry will be left paying the price.”

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