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We often think of Northern Ireland's environment as largely unspoilt and pollution-free - but the real story is much different.
Poor sewage system
From Larne to Lisnaskea, tonnes of poorly - or untreated effluent is discharged into our loughs, rivers and the sea every day.
- Raw sewage is pumped directly into Belfast Lough from Bangor
- Human waste from Portrush and Porstewart is piped into the sea untreated
- Pollution from Water Service is implicated in the loss of blue flags from 3 of our beaches
Northern Ireland is turning into a tip. The countryside is littered with illegal landfill sites which are either operating without licences or in breach of them:
- Clinical waste and animal carcasses have been dumped in a site licensed to take builders' rubble.
- Abandoned cars have been disposed of in a site on the edge of Strangford Lough, the jewel in Northern Ireland's conservation crown, which has no licence.
- Local people have to live with infestations of flies, unbearable stench, ill-health and disturbed sleep.
This is not nuisance fly-tipping but persistent, large-scale and well organised dumping in sites which aren't properly designed and controlled.
Across the country poorly regulated industries pump a cocktail of dangerous chemicals into the environment.
- A cement works turns a river bed into concrete
- Waste chemicals are poured down the drain turning a stream orange
- Plumes of toxic gases billow through a factory leaving workers with breathing problems
Weak legal protection
In Northern Ireland, the Environment and Heritage Service (EHS) is reponsible for the environment - but unlike other parts of the UK, it isn't independent of Government.
This makes it susceptible to political interference and industry pressures.
Friends of the Earth says:
- Northern Ireland needs an independent Environmental Protection Agency
Whether you have a problem with a dodgy dump, a filthy factory, or a squalid sewage outfall, our campaign guide will help get you started.