Warning of job losses over Lough Neagh dredging order

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Up to 200 jobs could be lost if firms dredging sand from Lough Neagh were forced to stop, an Upper Bann MLA has warned.

DUP MLA Stephen Moutray said the jobs could go ‘as a result of Environment Minister Mark H Durkhan’s decision to enforce five companies to cease their sand dredging activity on Lough Neagh.

“It is utterly ludicrous to take this line ... I have sought an urgent meeting with him to try and cease this action,” said Mr Moutray.

Companies taking sand from the bed of Lough Neagh have been told to stop or face prosecution.

The environment minister has issued enforcement notices to five companies telling them to cease activities by the end of next month.

Mark H Durkan said a “detailed investigation” had convinced him the firms were flouting an earlier instruction to stop dredging.

Failure to comply with the enforcement order is a criminal offence.

The companies have a right of appeal to the Planning Appeals Commission.