Environment agency backs down over mine discharge permit dispute

The Northern Ireland Environment Agency (NIEA) has lost its battle in the High Court after it allowed a gold mining company to discharge heavy metals into a protected site without carrying out a proper assessment.

Academic Fidelma O’Kane launched a judicial review against the NIEA’s decision in 2017 for allowing gold mining company Dalradian Gold to discharge nine heavy metals into a tributary of the Owenkillew River – a Special Area of Conservation (SAC) – without carrying out an appropriate assessment under the Habitats Directive. 

An appropriate assessment looks at the potential adverse effects of a plan or project – in combination with other plans or projects – on SACs and other EU-protected sites known as Special Protection Areas.

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