David Ford said: “Although there are ongoing problems around issues involving the potential for herbicides, pesticides or fertiliser run-off that have some effect on the river, there is absolutely no doubt that the most serious effects have been those associated with industrial development and the pollution that ended up in the waterways.
“Those serious incidents undermine the good work being done by a number of agencies, in particular, local angling clubs and the work being done together by the Six Mile Water Trust and the two councils in Antrim and Newtownabbey and in a variety of other local instances.
“There are also issues such as the waste water treatment works in Ballyclare. There is a new sewerage works in the area, but there are already concerns about its capacity. There are also issues about the continuing development around Ballyclare, the new housing and industry. All those things mean that there are issues that could add to the pollution.
“We have seen the benefits of a partnership approach. I pay tribute to all the volunteers who played a part in it. However, much more needs to be done to build up partnership and for agencies to work together.
“An independent environmental protection agency would be one way to start to address the problem in a more joined-up fashion than we have so far seen.”