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All Ireland Environmental Protection Agency a viable alternative to DOE failures

2 September, 2004

Sinn Fein Environment Spokesperson, South Down MLA Willie Clarke has said that an All Ireland Environmental Protection Agency is a viable alternative to the failure of the DoE to protect the environment.

Mr Clarke said:

"Reports stretching back over more than 14 years, including the recent Waste Management Advisory Boards' highly damming report into the DoE's environmental protection and waste management record demand real solutions. Sinn Féin believe 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.

"Raising awareness through advertising campaigns is an important tool in reducing waste but it is costly and has only led to minor changes in attitudes to waste. Concerted action is required. This should include legislation that promotes change and challenges the attitudes of businesses and consumers alike.

"The DoE has clearly failed to protect the environment and to develop the waste management solution required for the 21st century. Sinn Fein believe 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.

"There is 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 the support or resources they need, particularly hard." ENDS

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