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

Illegal landfills

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.

Polluting factories

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:

Take action

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.

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