Sand Traders appealing an Enforcement Notice issued by the Environment Minister over Lough Neagh sand extraction have requested a year’s extension to submit the required Environmental Impact Statement.
The Shaftesbury Estate of Lough Neagh, P&J Walls, A&E Mulholland, Norman Emerson Group Ltd, Northstone (NI) Ltd and Lagan Group all lodged an appeal against Mark H Durkan’s enforcement on June 29 this year - meaning they can continue work until the case is heard.
The impact statement was due to submitted by the end of November, but they have asked if they can have until October 31 next year.
The Planning Appeals Commission said it was not able to comment as a decision had not yet been taken.
Sand dredging had no planning permission and was taking place in a bird habitat with European protection.
Both the Green Party and Friends of the Earth NI have spoken out against the sand extraction and a complaint was lodged with the European Commission.
Friends of the Earth took legal action against Department of the Environment for its failure to stop the extraction just last week - they say it is harming the lough’s ecosytems and species and that the Minister has not followed the “precautionary approach”.
The Northern Ireland Audit Office is also investigating the environmental impact of sand extraction, focussing specifically on DOE’s role.
It is understood an extension request was submitted as the Sand Traders want to cover a full year and all the seasonal changes with their report.