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DAERA Minister Edwin Poots MLA has outlined the next steps for his Department’s routine inspection programme and decided that a number of inspections will restart over the coming days and weeks.

The Minister also confirmed that while some routine inspections will recommence almost immediately, the pause on others will continue in the interests of public health.

The news comes as the Executive moves towards relaxing some of the Covid-19 restrictions and moving Northern Ireland towards recovery.

Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs Minister Edwin Poots MLA said: “The checks and inspections that DAERA undertakes are vital to protect human health, trade, animal welfare, plant health and the environment. I want to gradually reintroduce our inspections programme to add to the essential ones that carried on during lockdown.

“My officials have been looking at workarounds and alternative strategies to deliver our services to ensure the safety of both our staff and the public. My focus remains on supporting business, keeping supply chains operational and ensuring public and animal health is protected along with the environment.”

While some inspections will remain paused for a longer period of time, there will be a gradual reintroduction of inspections over the incoming days and weeks.

For more information on the inspections that will continue to be paused, visit: https://www.daera-ni.gov.uk/routine-inspections-investigations-continued-pause. Further enquiries should be directed to [email protected].

In addition the extensive environmental monitoring and surveillance programme undertaken by DAERA will also be gradually run up again. These programmes provide essential data on terrestrial, freshwater and marine ecosystems along with water and air quality. Information from these programmes is used to establish the state of the environment, identify potential risks to public health and forms the basis of decisions on authorisations and policy.