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Environment Minister Gordon Lyons today encouraged people to take an active role in shaping Northern Ireland’s approach to environmental plans, principles and governance.

A discussion paper, highlighting three specific elements of the UK Government’s Environment Bill, which is currently making its way through Parliament, was launched by the then Environment Minister Edwin Poots on 10 December 2020 and is due to close on 26 February 2021.

Encouraging people to register their views on the document before time runs out, Minister Lyons said: “Environmental principles are at the core of international environmental law and, following the end of the EU withdrawal transition period, I am keen to ensure that Northern Ireland continues to benefit from the application of these important principles during the policy making process.”

The Minister continued: “Responses to this discussion document will inform the framework for environmental policies which support Green Growth. This will be central to the Executive’s co-designed Green Growth Strategy and Delivery Framework which aims to transform our society towards net zero by 2050, protect and enhance our environment and sustainably grow our economy by embedding a Green Growth approach in future Government policies and business strategies. The measures covered in this consultation will go towards ensuring the effective environmental governance required to achieve this. It is therefore vital that we all take an active role in shaping our approach to environmental plans, principles and governance.”

The discussion document seeks the views of a wide range of stakeholders on:

  • Environmental Improvement Plans, which would require DAERA to produce long-term strategic plans for the environment;
  • A policy statement on the application of environmental principles by all Departments and UK Government Ministers when making policy for NI; and
  • Arrangements for independent environmental oversight.

Minister Lyons concluded: “Our environment is not only valuable in its own right; it also facilitates our health and wellbeing and sustains our economic growth. However, achieving this economic growth at the cost of its degradation through over-exploitation or pollution is not sustainable. Protecting and enhancing our environment is a priority and I would therefore encourage you to consider this important document carefully and take an active role in shaping our approach to environmental plans, principles and governance.”

The discussion document (www.daera-ni.gov.uk/consultations/environmental-plans-principles-and-governance) will remain open for comment until 26 February 2021.