Residents of the affluent area of North Down in Holywood have been experiencing unpleasant odours for weeks. Initially, the bad smells were believed to be related to sewage spills, but it has now been identified that rotting seaweed may be the culprit.
Northern Ireland Water was previously called in to resolve a sewage blockage near Cultra, a nearby residential neighborhood, where raw human waste water was discovered to be leaking into Belfast Lough. This caused a wave of complaints from residents.
According to Alliance Councillor David Rossiter, intensive investigations have been carried out by the Ards and North Down Environment Department, Northern Ireland Water, and the Northern Ireland Environment Agency to locate the source of the recent odours in the Kinnegar and Seapark areas. After conducting tests at their water treatment facility, Northern Ireland Water concluded that the issue did not originate with them.
During field visits by council environment staff and relevant agencies, a build-up of rotten seaweed was observed near the train station adjacent to the Esplanade. It is believed that this seaweed may be the source of the unpleasant odours. The council is now in contact with the Department of Infrastructure regarding any issues with the sewer infrastructure in this area.
The council is also working with the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs to address the problem. However, the removal of rotting seaweed is subject to tight guidelines from the Department, so the council must wait for advice before taking any action.
Councillor Rossiter is urging the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs to promptly collaborate with the council to safely remove the rotting seaweed. This will help ensure that local residents no longer have to deal with poor odours whenever they open a window or the front door.
It is important to note that Northern Ireland Water has highlighted the need for significant investment in wastewater infrastructure across the region. They are currently undertaking a Drainage Area Study to address network capacity issues and plan future investments. They anticipate that realistically, it will take at least 12 to 18 years to fully address wastewater issues in Northern Ireland.