Protecting the environment at north coast harbours

INVESTIGATIONS now have to be carried out into the potential impact on the environment ahead of dredging taking place at north Antrim harbours, it has emerged.

Moyle Council officer Aidan McPeake said the regulations mean the Council has to do habitat assessments which are an “extremely slow process”.

Mr McPeake said they had to do such an assessment for Rathlin and now others are needed for Ballycastle, Ballintoy and Red Bay.

Regarding dredging on Rathlin, Cllr Seamus Blaney (Independent) said people on Rathlin want to know when dredging will take place.

Mr McPeake said it will not take place until the week after the festival on Rathlin in June.

Cllr Willie Graham (Ulster Unionist) wanted to know if the dredger will be coming to Ballintoy Harbour and Mr McPeake said the work there will not take place until after the summer.

Cllr Graham said fishermen said Ballintoy is so bad they had boat access problems and Mr McPeake said the situation is not ideal.

Cllr Joan Baird (Ulster Unionist) said perhaps they need to look at providing a rebate at Ballintoy Harbour “considering it may not be good for fishing this summer”.

Mr McPeake said he and the harbour master will look at the Ballintoy Harbour situation.

There has previously been controversy surrounding dredging issues and build ups of sand and silt in harbours like Ballintoy.

A number of years ago the saga dragged on for a considerable period.