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Environment Minister Edwin Poots MLA has signed a wide-ranging and ambitious three year Prosperity Agreement between Belfast Harbour and the Northern Ireland Environment Agency (NIEA).

The agreement will see the Harbour commit to reducing CO2 emissions, reducing waste, improving air and water quality and enhancing both terrestrial and marine biodiversity.

Speaking about the 11th Prosperity Agreement signed by the NIEA, the Minister said: “This is a very ambitious agreement which is an excellent example of Green Growth in action where business can grow and prosper while creating tangible environmental improvements including reducing carbon, waste and water usage.

“The agreement will see Belfast Harbour aim for a net zero target by 2030, improve biodiversity, improve air and water quality, reduce waste and aim for zero waste to landfill. This Prosperity Agreement will also see a benefit to the marine environment and I am delighted that my officials in DAERA will work even more closely with the Harbour to enhance the marine and terrestrial habitats on their 2,000 acre site.

“Belfast Harbour will invest in environmentally friendly and renewable technologies, develop its own energy, air and sustainable procurement strategies and encourage its staff, tenants and port clients to adopt more sustainable transport and resource usage practices.”

David Dobbin, Chairman Belfast Harbour said: “Belfast Harbour’s commitment to building a truly sustainable, clean, green Port is core to our Trust Port purpose. As we operate, maintain and improve our Port and Harbour Estate, our ambition is to achieve net zero carbon emissions from our operations by 2030, to reduce pollution, and to protect and enhance our natural environment and marine diversity.

“Work to deliver this is already well underway, as we introduce electric vehicles, develop our use of renewable energy, instigate studies to better understand our marine diversity and embed sustainable development across our 2,000 acre Harbour Estate.

“We are delighted to partner with the Northern Ireland Environment Agency as we accelerate and deliver our sustainability goals. We recognise that through coalition and partnership, together we can achieve so much more. By putting people, place and the environment at the heart of our sustainable business model, Belfast Harbour is developing a clean, green port, where people and planet thrive.”

Joanne Sherwood, RSPB NI Director, added: “There has never been a more important time to invest in the protection and restoration of nature. The pandemic has served as a reminder that our economy and the health of society are dependent on a flourishing natural world: decisions taken now will have a major impact for many years to come so we welcome this commitment from Belfast Harbour.”

The Minister concluded: “It is very fitting that we are signing this agreement at the RSPB Belfast’s Window on Wildlife. This is symbolic, and demonstrates Belfast Harbour’s commitment to placing the environment and sustainability at the centre of their business and I am pleased that my Department will be working in an even closer partnership with them.

“Many businesses are already thinking green – they are already doing the right thing and reaping the benefits. We want to work with progressive organisations like Belfast Harbour who are committed to sustainable growth while enhancing the environment.”