Anna Lo MLA said: “Northern Ireland’s natural environment is one of our best assets and its protection is paramount. The NI Environment Agency carries out a very important role but there have been some failings especially around prosecutions.
“Taking tough action on environmental pollution by securing successful prosecutions can act as an effective deterrent to prevent others carrying out such actions. Unfortunately we have had some cases where there were too many delays in bringing charges against those responsible for breaches of environmental laws or even not seeking prosecutions at all. I have raised my concerns at the lack of enforcement officers within the Environment Crime Unit in NIEA to deal with frequent pollution incidents, with the cost of remedying such damage often running into thousands of pounds. I hope that the policy of the polluter paying the cost of such damage will continue.
“I hope the NIEA will take on board this report and implement all its recommendations. This will be particularly important ahead of the merger of the Departments of Environment and Agriculture due to concerns over competing interests between different sectors.”