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Evidence running against Foster – time to act on Environmental Protection Agency

11 October, 2007


Sinn Féin Environment Spokesperson, North Antrim MLA Daithí McKay has said that the evidence in the Criminal Justice Inspection report that the Environment and Heritage Service (EHS) and Department of the Environment (DoE) are failing to protect the environment strengthens the demand for an Environmental Protection Agency.

Mr McKay said:

"This Criminal Justice Inspection report makes it clear that Arlene Foster's department and the Environment and Heritage Service are failing to tackle on persistent environmental offenders, including those who dump waste illegally.

"This is not the first report to highlight the total inability of the department to deliver high standards of environmental protection. What we need now is a clear indication from the Arlene Foster is that it will be the last.

"Sinn Féin believes that an all-Ireland Environmental Protection Agency is a viable alternative to DoE failures. An independent agency with strong enforcement powers and a commitment to upholding the polluter pays principle.

"It is not credible to defend the record of the EHS when on almost every single count there is failure; a total lack of transparency over enforcement policies and procedures; the absence of inter-departmental co-operation; poor management of funding for environmental protection; government intervention to the detriment of the environment; and poor performance in achieving environmental objectives. It is a long list.

"The Review of Environmental Governance Report in June recommended responsibility for environmental regulation be transferred to a new Environmental Protection Agency, including enhancement of an all-island approach to environmental governance at policy and operational levels. Arlene Foster needs to show leadership and seize that opportunity by implementing the recommendations of the report.

"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." ENDS

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