A call to approve continued sand dredging in Lough Neagh has been described as “an appalling assault on ecology and the environment”.
On Thursday, the infrastructure minister granted planning approval to proceed dredging on the EU protected web site.
Nichola Mallon stated it was a “finely balanced determination”.
There was a six-year authorized wrangle over the controversial follow on the lough.
It has been happening for many years with out planning permission, with environmentalists suggesting it might be damaging and may cease.
Reacting to Ms Mallon’s determination on Thursday, Inexperienced Celebration NI chief Clare Bailey stated “nothing is sacred” ” if the lough is “dug out and destroyed”.
She added: “It’s estimated that 1.5million tonnes of sand has been dredged so far, which is believed to have had a devastating influence on all the ecosystem of the lough.
“Northern Eire is disintegrating into an environmental wasteland and it is beneath the watch of government events that give us the entire soundbites about addressing local weather breakdown and the ecological disaster, however not one of the substance.”
Buddies of the Earth’s James Orr described the choice as “a significant blow to the environmental integrity of the lough and the political integrity of the planning system”.
“You can not completely take away the mattress of the lough with out far-reaching ecological hurt,” he stated.
“To approve this extraction in a spot that’s meant to be a specifically protected nature reserve signifies that nowhere is secure in Northern Eire from extractive industries.”
The minister stated she had needed to weigh up the varied advantages with the potential for hurt.
Ms Mallon stated she had come to the conclusion that the work would trigger “no antagonistic impact” to the protected options of the lough.
Approval covers two distinct areas totalling round 3km sq within the north west of the lough.
Environmentalists had opposed continued extraction, going to court docket to problem it.
The transfer follows a advice for approval from the Planning Appeals Fee final 12 months.
It’s the finish of an extended authorized and planning battle, which began when former Setting Minister Mark Durkan tried to halt sand extraction on the lough in 2014.
At the moment, it emerged the follow, which had been happening for years, did not have planning approval.