The Northern Ireland Environment Agency (NIEA) has committed to carry out a further investigation into an odour problem that has plagued areas in west Belfast and Lisburn for months.
The smell, which residents claim has been causing headaches, breathing difficulties and even nosebleeds, had been traced to Mullaghglass Landfill site on the outskirts of Lisburn last year.
Alliance Councillors Sorcha Eastwood, David Honeyford and Stephen Martin have met with NIEA officials recently to find a solution to the issue.
The party representatives have previously raised the issue with environmental health officials at Lisburn and Castlereagh Council.
The NIEA has also agreed to undertake further monitoring work, to be completed in a tight timeframe, and if results were not achieved enforcement action will be taken.
“We have now secured a commitment from the NIEA to conduct further investigatory work and mitigations, if this does not yield results in a tight time frame, enforcement can and should be taken,” Cllr Eastwood said.
“The NIEA has confirmed that they will take action if positive results are not forthcoming. It is also incumbent on the Environment Minister to hold to account those the operators who are not compliant with pollution controls and I would call on him to act.”
Councillor David Honeyford added: “With residents in my area of Killultagh being impacted by these odours on a daily basis over a long period of time, there are now commitments from NIEA to engage directly with residents groups, which is useful and needed.
“However, these engagements must happen urgently as a matter of priority so people know the relevant authorities are listening.”
Alderman Stephen Martin, who has been dealing with the issue over many years for residents in Lisburn North said it was time for all relevant agencies to step up to the mark and join the NIEA to try to resolve the issues.
“Councils working in partnership with Minister Poots and his Department can push this further,” he said.
“Communicating the facts will go a long way, but the bottom line is – this needs fixed urgently.”
The NIEA said it will update the Alliance Councillors following a meeting with the operators of the site later this week.
Last week the NIEA told the Belfast Telegraph it remains aware of the ongoing issue and is continuing to work to end the distress being experienced.
“NIEA is aware of the foul odour issue which local residents have been experiencing and have been undertaking regular odour monitoring at the site and in the surrounding area to try to pinpoint the exact source of the problem,” a spokesperson confirmed.
“NIEA has also been engaging with the operator of the Mullaghglass landfill who has been instructed to conduct detailed methane surveys to try to detect any point sources of fugitive emissions around the landfill.
“In addition the site operator has been asked to prepare an odour management plan to ensure that measures are in place to effectively deal with the more recent waste deposits which seem to be generating landfill gas earlier than expected.
“Monitoring and site visits to Mullaghglass and the surrounding area by NIEA will continue, and will include joint visits with council environmental health officers. NIEA will continue to update local elected representatives on progress.”