Infrastructure Minister, Nichola Mallon today announced her decision to approve the planning application for sand dredging in Lough Neagh.
This follows the Minister’s careful consideration of the Planning Appeals Commission’s (PAC) report on the Public Local Inquiry, held in June 2018.
Minister Mallon commented: “This approval is a finely balanced decision where I had to weigh up the various benefits with the potential for harm to the designation features of the Lough.”
“I am an advocate for protection of the environment, particularly a special one such as Lough Neagh,” Minister Mallon added. “Taking into account all the comments, I have come to the view that there will be no adverse effect caused by the development on the Lough.”
The approval for sand dredging covers two distinct areas totalling some 3.1km2, in the north-west of Lough Neagh.
This decision brings to an end a long legal and planning battle which started when former Environment minister Mark H Durkan, attempted to halt sand extraction on the lough back in 2014.