Sinn Féin challenge NIO to deliver independent Environmental Protection Agency
Sinn Féin Fermanagh South Tyrone MLA Thomas O'Reilly speaking after attending the 2-day seminar on the future vision for the environment organised by the Environmental Heritage Service has challenge NIO Environment Minster Jeff Rooker to deliver an independent all-Ireland Environmental Protection Agency.
Mr O'Reilly said:
"Reports stretching back over the last decade, including the Waste Management Advisory Boards' highly damming report into the DoE's environmental protection and waste management record demand real solutions. Sinn Féin believes that an all-Ireland Environmental Protection Agency is a viable alternative to DoE failures.
"We need radical solutions to a problem that will not go away. Crown immunity from prosecution for the DoE, and indeed all government departments and agencies should be removed. We need to put the emphasis on prevention rather than cure.
"Sinn Fein believes that the DoE should be stripped of its environmental protection powers because it has abjectly failed to do its job. We believe that there is a very strong case for the creation of a single all-Ireland Environmental Protection Agency. A new agency with strong enforcement powers and a strong commitment to ensuring that the polluter is held responsible for their actions and meets treatment costs.
"An all-Ireland EPA could also take the lead in ensuring that all government department meet environmental targets on, for example, using energy from renewable sources and recycling.
"There is also a crisis in waste treatment capacity. It makes no sense to look at the problems of waste management or illegal dumping in a segregated way. We need an all-Ireland waste management strategy driven by an Implementation Body with tough enforcement powers to move us away from landfill and incineration.
"In particular with EU Environmental directives there is an onus on us to act faster and to invest more in meeting tough new guidelines. Failure to comply with these EU directives will potentially cost us millions and this will hit local councils, who have not been given the support or resources they need, particularly hard." ENDS