asked the Minister for Transport and Power if he will request that the Foras Forbartha survey being carried out on Lough Derg be extended to cover the River Shannon north of Portumna as far as Shannon Harbour, if possible, as it is in this area that thousands of tons of peat silt are actually visible and a danger to life and fish life.
Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Foras Forbartha Survey.
I am informed by Bord na Móna that the location of the shoals of peat and silt in the area of the river Shannon referred to by the Deputy, have been fully identified by the board, and that the board is examining ways and means of removing the shoals. Accordingly the board see no advantage in inviting the attention of An Foras Forbartha to the problem.
Meanwhile, my colleague, the Minister for Agriculture and Fisheries is in touch with Bord na Móna and is keeping the problem under review from the point of view of his overall responsibility for fisheries.
Can the Minister say who has the final responsibility in this area? In reply to representations I have been told that the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries, the Department of Transport and Power, the Department of Local Government and the Department of Industry and Commerce have a responsibility. Is there any intention to give the responsibility and power to a single Department to control the pollution of the Shannon? It is causing concern all along the basin.
I accept what the Deputy has said in that regard. It is causing concern in my Department— to Bord Fáilte—because of the effects it might have on the tourist industry. There is also concern by the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries from the point of view of fish life. Bord na Móna would have responsibility in this regard because they are, allegedly, the polluters. Any industry, town or group of people if they were to have the responsibility would have the responsibility for seeing (a) that the damage done is corrected and (b) that it does not occur again. As regards towns and houses, the Department of Local Government would have the responsibility there.
Allowing that the sources of pollution are various will the Minister acknowledge that it is about time somebody in this Government was given overall responsibility and control to deal with this matter, because it has been going on for years in Lough Derg and we are getting the same kind of respense all the time, that each Department is looking at it?
The Minister for Local Government has overall responsibility.
I am delighted to know that. That is news.
Of course, other Departments are vitally concerned about the effects of pollution, including my own, the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries and the Department of Industry and Commerce. While we are concerned with the effects of it, the Minister for Local Government has responsibility for the control of pollution.
Could I ask the Deputies to assist in making progress with questions today?
As the Minister is aware, turf mould, while not a dirty pollution, is causing pollution along the Shannon. Is there any way of controlling it? It is a simple question.
I cannot give the Deputy a simple answer. Bord na Móna are conscious of the alleged damage that has been done by peat and the silt in the Shannon, evidently from their operations. At the moment they are seeing whether there is any way they can correct it.
They have not got a way as yet?