AQW 31750/11-15

Mr Steven Agnew
Green Party
North Down

Tabled Date: 06/03/2014
Answered On Date: 25/03/2014
Priority Written: Yes

To ask the Minister of the Environment how much sand and gravel was extracted from Lough Neagh in each of the last five years; and to detail the controls, permissions and regulations required, and in place, to extract these materials.

It has been brought to my attention that unauthorised extraction of sand from Lough Neagh has been continuing over a period of years. The Department is currently undertaking a thorough investigation into the past history and potential impact of this alleged breach and is currently consulting with all relevant agencies and other Government Departments. The matter has also been raised with those responsible for the extraction and the owners of the bed of the Lough. I have insisted that this matter be properly dealt with without delay.
My Department does not hold information on the quantity of sand and gravel extracted from Lough Neagh.
There is currently no planning permission for sand extraction on the Lough. In relation to controls, permissions and regulations I can advise that planning permission and assessment under The Planning (Environmental Impact Assessment) Regulations (NI) 2012 is required. In addition, in assessing any application that would impact on Lough Neagh Special Protection Areas, a Habitats Regulations Assessment is also required.