Environment Minister meets with Earl of Shaftesbury

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andrew muir

Andrew Muir, the new Minister for Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs, has said he will meet the Earl of Shaftesbury this week.

Environment Minister Andrew Muir is scheduled to meet with owners of Lough Neagh beds and soils later this week.

Andrew Muir announced that he would meet the Earl of Shaftesbury during the first minister’s question period.

Mr Muir said he was looking forward to a “frank and open” discussion with the Earl.

Last year, Britain’s largest freshwater lake was devastated by an unprecedented outbreak of potentially toxic blue-green algae.

Blue-green algae are bacteria that can cause dermatitis and illness in people who come into contact with them, but the greatest risk is to pets, livestock, and wildlife.

Blue green algae in Lough NeaghBlue green algae in Lough Neagh

Blue-green algae are toxic to animals and can also cause illness in humans

The Shaftesbury family has held ownership of the Lough riverbed and soil since the 19th century.

Prior to that, it had been owned by the Chichester family since its plantation in Ulster.

There have been calls for the lake to be brought into public ownership after an algae bloom last year.

Nicholas Ashley Cooper, the 12th member of his family to hold the title Earl of Shaftesbury, told BBC News NI last year that he was open to the idea of ​​selling the lake, but had no intention of giving it up.

Nicholas Ashley Cooper, Earl of ShaftesburyNicholas Ashley Cooper, Earl of Shaftesbury

Nicholas Ashley Cooper, Earl of Shaftesbury, told BBC News NI last year that he was open to the idea of ​​selling the Lough, but had no intention of giving it away.

Work is underway to consider future management options after Loch Ney Partnership secured funding from the National Lottery Heritage Fund for the two-year project.

The new Minister for Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (Dera) has told the Northern Ireland Assembly that the job and meeting with the Earl will form a “twin-track” approach to considering the lake’s issues and future.

Mr Muir said: “I would say there are no quick wins when it comes to issues relating to Lough Neagh.”

“I think it is very likely and very important that we put this on record in this chamber today, but it is very likely that something like what we saw last year will happen again this year.

“And to be honest, and I mean this with all my heart, I think it’s a terrible indictment that this situation was allowed to unfold.”

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