Pollution case failure shows need for independent Environmental Protection Agency

Alliance Sustainability Spokesperson Cllr Alan Lawther said that errors which led to the authorities being unable to prosecute those responsible for a fish kill underlines that an independent Environmental Protection Agency is essential. The Department of the Environment were investigating pollution that had killed over 30,000 fish in the Sixmilewater River last June. It is understood that Department officials did not test any of the dead fish to determine what pollutant had killed them, which means that there cannot be any prosecutions.

Cllr Alan Lawther said: “The failure to prosecute anyone on this crime is scandalous. Currently all we have is an agency that is linked to the Department of the Environment – Northern Ireland desperately needs an independent EPA to bring more polluters to justice.

“One of the main roles of an independent Environmental Protection Agency would be to scrutinise what the Department does. This job cannot be done robustly if there is no independent EPA.

“We need a quick response to every case of pollution, and evidence gathering procedures that are effective and ensure prosecutions.

“Every other region in the UK has an independent EPA apart from us. Even former American President Richard Nixon saw the need for one, yet the Environment Minister Sammy Wilson still does not believe it is worthwhile. This mistake could have been averted if we had an independent EPA. One needs to be created urgently so that no more polluters are let off the hook.”


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