No time for delay in setting up Independent Environmental Protection Agency
Sinn Féin Environment spokesperson, North Antrim MLA Daithí McKay has re-iterated the party's manifesto demand for an Independent all-Ireland Environmental Protection Agency.
Speaking in a Stormont debate on the issue, Mr McKay said:
"Sinn Féin are in favour of the establishment of an all-Ireland Environmental Protection Agency and this debate is an important first step. All-Ireland environmental governance makes common sense and is something that we will raise at the North-South Ministerial Council.
"There is little doubt of the need for reform of the present system. Support for this reform stems from a loss of public confidence in the quality of environmental regulation and a desire for greater transparency, leadership and public debate surrounding decision-making.
"The EHS has been criticised in recent years, especially in relation to its poor performance in achieving environmental objectives. Examples include poor management of funding for environmental protection, government intervention to the detriment of the environment, poor performance in achieving environmental objectives and lack of co-ordination with other government departments with responsibilities for the implementation of environmental legislation.
"The Review of Environmental Governance Report released in June recommended that 'responsibility for environmental regulation should be transferred to a new Environmental Protection Agency'. I hope the Minister for Environment shows leadership on this and seizes that opportunity by implementing the recommendations of the report.
"Another key recommendation in the report was that 'appropriate measures should be taken to restore and enhance an all-island approach to environmental governance at policy and operational levels'.
"An all-Ireland approach would be of benefit to biodiversity conservation as we have a distinct island biogeography which does not consider boundaries; an All-Ireland approach would also ensure greater regulatory and enforcement mechanisms.
"The establishment of an Independent Environmental Protection Agency is essential if we are to protect the beautiful environment which attracts so many tourists every year, it is essential if we are to avoid colossal European fines, it is essential if we are to halt biodiversity loss as well as illegal dumping.
"This is not something that we should. Steps need to be taken to establish an EPA as soon as possible as the destruction of our environment and its wildlife is something that is already happening without reproach on a daily basis." ENDS