One of People Before Profit’s first priorities at Stormont will be to force the SDLP and
Sinn Fein to deliver on their pledge to hold a public inquiry into illegal dumping in the North West.
The pledge from the two parties came at Stormont after a BBC Spotlight programme two years ago exposing the scandal of illegal dumping around Campsie. Derry now has one of the biggest illegal dumps in Europe on our doorstep.
It is alarming that that the route of the proposed upgrade of the A6 will run over a vast mound of unidentified rubbish.
Gas from the buried rubbish can be seen bubbling to the surface of “lagoons” on the site.
At one point, potentially toxic rubbish is buried within ten metres of a tributary to the Faughan – from which most of Derry’s water is drawn. We accept Department of the Environment assurances that the water coming through our taps poses no immediate risk. But literally nobody knows the level of threat which might emerge in the future.
In the immediate aftermath of the Spotlight programme, promises were made that the site would be cleared up. Various estimates of the cost were discussed. Since the, there's been silence. on the subject.
As well as People Before Profit, community and campaigning groups – Enagh Youth Forum, Zero Waste NW, Faughan Anglers Association and Friends of the Earth among them - have consistently been calling for an inquiry to put the full truth before the people. What do the Executive parties have to fear from the facts being made public?
In March 2014, the Assembly unanimously backed a motion stating that: “This Assembly recognises the issues raised in the recently broadcast BBC 'Spotlight' investigation into illegal waste disposal and other irregularities; and calls on the Minister of the Environment to establish an independent public inquiry into waste disposal in the north-west and the rest of Northern Ireland..."
Both the SDLP and Sinn Fein supported this call. But two years on, no such inquiry has been set up. And neither party has come under any sustained pressure in the Assembly to do what they promised.
That will change when People Before Profit MLAs walk into Stormont. We won’t allow environmental issues of this sort to be long-fingered any further.
The people of Foyle and elsewhere in the North will have a voice on the matter.