Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 23 July 2014

Authorities need to get tough on polluters

Everyone who wants to see our natural environment protected as much as possible will be shocked by the news that severe water pollution in the Enler River near Comber has killed thousands of fish.

The damage has been described by a local angler as the worst fish kill he has ever seen and he has said that the "whole life has been taken out of the river".

This underlines the gravity of the situation, and this will leave a poisonous legacy which will affect the river for a long time to come, which will also badly affect local anglers and others who have the best interests of the environment at heart.

One positive point in this unfortunate business is the attitude of the local farmer, Martin Hamilton, who has admitted that the polluting water came from his fields. He has apologised and also promised to do what he can to replace the fish stock.

His swift acceptance of responsibility is refreshing in a world where too many people try to wriggle out of accepting liability for getting something badly wrong.

The pollution of the Enler River is extremely serious, and it will take decades to rectify.

This is why the enforcement agencies must take a tough stance on this issue.

However, farmers like Mr Hamilton who make honest mistakes are not the real problem.

It is the sly polluters and the systematic dumpers who are the major culprits in damaging our countryside.

This newspaper is not convinced that the right structures are in place to apprehend and punish properly those who pollute our environment, and this is why we would like to see more prosecutions coming before the courts.

The beautiful environment in so many parts of Northern Ireland is one of the jewels in our crown, and every measure must be taken by the authorities and those with a sense of public responsibility to protect this precious heritage from all kinds of pollution and abuse.

This is not a challenge for "somebody else".

It is a challenge for all of us.

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