Lough Neagh Partnership

Lough Neagh Partnership

The Lough Neagh Partnership (LNP) is the main coordinating body on Lough Neagh, which is the biggest Lough in Northern Ireland and the UK. The Lough Neagh Partnership is responsible for coordinating the management of the Lough and setting Lake Strategy and Policy. It has worked with local stakeholders such as Universities, Government Departments, Farmers and Sandtraders to research and address issues such as water quality, nutrient runoff, impact of sand extraction and habitat loss. It is presently researching the impacts on the SPA status of the Lough and managing a major £3 million Landscape Partnership Programme funded by Heritage Lottery.  These experiences serve a strong basis for platform building during WaterPro. LNP is responsible for WaterPro Communications and has developed a joint communication and has a role to coordinate the external communication for WaterPro.

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Over nine partners from around the whole of Northern Europe, including lead partner Savonia University of Applied Sciences (Finland), and of course the local Lough Neagh Partnership met in Sweden at the end of November 2016 to discuss ideas and make suggestions on how to address nitrate run off problems from agricultural and mining water sources.

At the meeting, which is part of the Northern Peripheries Transnational Interreg Programme, each of the partners gave a presentation on the main agricultural and mining sites associated with their own area, highlighting particular run off problems whilst proposing research based solutions.  Gerry Darby from the Lough Neagh Partnership stressed the problems created by nitrate and phosphate run off into the Lough Neagh catchment are mainly from agricultural sources. He noted that “Whilst farmers and government departments are working together to slowly address this problem, it is important to consider other methods being used in other parts of Europe to see if these can be transferred to parts the Lough Neagh Catchment.” The meeting kicked off at Lulea University of Technology before travelling north to the Arctic Circle at Kiruna Iron Ore Mine, Sweden, one of the largest mines in Europe supplying 60% of all iron to the European market.

The mine has a history of nitrate run off issues hence practical mitigating suggestions were provided by the Swedish partners on how to address this pollution concern.  A previous meeting of all the partners was held in the Agri-Food and Biosciences Institute (AFBI), Hillsborough in June 2016, where the benefits of planting a Short Rotational Willow Coppice System were explained and the key mitigation measures of the system were identified, including environmental protection for streams, rivers, lakes, environmental compliance, and biomass energy  production. It is intended that the transfer of this practical knowledge from the different sites and partners can be brought back to Lough Neagh and utilised to address nitrate and phosphate run off in some of the smaller catchments around the Lough so as to compile practical proposals to start addressing and reversing this water quality problem.

Nutrients in agricultural runoff are one of the major contributors to eutrophication and algal blooms, which leads to a loss of biodiversity in our local lakes and rivers; whilst Ammonium nitrate based explosives used in mining operations often result in nitrogen leaching via runoff. It is inevitable that global climate change will increase the frequency of floods and water volumes in Northern, Periphery and Arctic (NPA) areas increasing further the potential for pollution. Hence the Waterpro project, championed by the Northern Peripheries Transnational Interreg Programme, aims to provide more eco efficient runoff management tools and models in the Northern Periphery Area in anticipation of the effects of climate change and facilitate faster transfer of knowledge and develop wider cooperation within the Northern Periphery Area improving runoff management systems and techniques.

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WaterPro Brochure – Lough Neagh Partnership

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