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Environment Bill cannot weaken environmental protections - McGuigan

28 May, 2020 - by Philip McGuigan

Sinn Féin Environment Spokesperson Philip McGuigan MLA has today called on DAERA Minister Edwin Poots to ensure that the British Government Environment Bill doesn't lead to a significant regression in environmental protections in the North.

The North Antrim MLA was speaking following a meeting of the Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs Committee at which serious concerns about the nature of the Environment Bill were again raised.

Philip McGuigan MLA said:

"The British Government is introducing an Environment Bill in an attempt to plug the gaps of environmental protections left wide open by their Brexit debacle.

"While there are some positive elements, it is the view of Sinn Féin, many local environmental activists and NGOs that this Bill marks a significant weakening of protections and regulations enjoyed under EU membership.

"Not only do we lose many EU directives and regulations, but the directives and regulations that this Bill attempts to emulate are to be enforced by a new OEP with very weak enforcement powers.

"It is the firm view of Sinn Féin there can be no regression from EU environmental standards or regulations of an all-Ireland nature.

"I am calling on Minister Poots to engage with DEFRA in Britain to ensure a sunset clause is inserted into the relevant sections of the Bill, this will mean that we are not permanently setback with weaker protections.

"There is also a responsibility on Minister Poots to form an Environmental Bill specific to the North which guarantees protections that are at least in line with those enjoyed across the rest of Ireland and the EU."

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