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Gildernew visits Blackwater Regional Partnership Offices

24 January, 2008


Sinn Féin Agriculture and Rural Development Minister Michelle Gildernew MP MLA, has visited the offices of the Blackwater Regional Partnership in Caledon, outside Dungannon.

She was welcomed to the visit by Councillor Jim Spears and given a brief history of the Blackwater Transboundary River Basin Action for Community and Environment (TRACE) project by Colleen Ward, the project coordinator. Dr Phil Jordan, Head of School of Environmental Sciences at the University of Ulster outlined the aim, the challenges and outcomes of TRACE to date.

Responding to the speakers, the Minister said:

"I take real encouragement from what I have heard today about the project. It is great to see a cross-border rural community and its Councils coming together, taking ownership of their local river and working in partnership with scientists, government bodies and other agencies in such a positive way.

"It is clear to me that the problem of pollution in our countryside comes from many sources. This project demonstrates that waste management in farmyards, farming practices and septic tank performance all can have an impact on water quality."

The Minister also said that: "Water quality is something that is taken seriously by my Department. Undoubtedly, freshwater is one of our most important natural resources and I consider effective pollution control and the efficient use of nutrients on farms essential for a sustainable farming industry."

"There is no doubt that an improvement in water quality benefits the whole community and with everyone pulling together this is possible." ENDS

NOTES TO EDITORS:

This project is part-funded by the EU Grant Programme INTERREG IIIA.

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