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Environmental test for Northern Ireland

Jul 01, 2008

Further information
Vicki Elcoate

New arrangements launched on July 1st for regulating the environment in Northern Ireland fall short of the best model for effective regulation and environmental protection, the UK Environmental Law Association says today. However UKELA says it is committed to working with the new set up to ensure that the best environmental outcomes are delivered.

As the Department of Environment’s Environment and Heritage Service is relaunched as the Northern Ireland Environment Agency, UKELA has expressed disappointment that an independent Environment Agency will not be set up. The test is now whether the regulatory system in Northern Ireland can deliver vitally needed improvements in environmental protection and regulation and UKELA will be offering to help with that process.
The new arrangements keep environmental regulation as part of the Department of Environment, answerable to Ministers. In England and Scotland there are free standing environmental regulators, which can act as independent environmental champions.
UKELA had supported the recommendations of the panel appointed to review environmental governance in Northern Ireland, which was chaired by Tom Burke, also a UKELA Patron. He said today: “This is a damaging setback. Northern Ireland will remain the only part of the United Kingdom not to have an independent environment agency”.
The review panel took evidence from over 100 groups on the way forward and an overwhelming majority supported the proposed changes. They said the current system of environmental governance was not fit for purpose.
UKELA will be seeking discussions with the new regulators and says the key test is whether they can deliver better environmental protection, which will need adequate resourcing and getting the right skills in place.

Notes to the editors:

UKELA is the UK forum which aims to make the law work for a better environment and to improve understanding and awareness of environmental law. UKELA’s members are involved in the practice, study or formulation of Environmental Law in the UK and the European Union. It attracts both lawyers and non lawyers and has a broad membership.
The Northern Ireland Environment Agency is being launched today July 1st by the Environment Minister Sammy Wilson.

UK Environmental Law Association - Better law for the environment
Registered charity 299498; company registered in England number 2133283
Registered office: One Glass Wharf, Bristol, BS2 0ZX

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