Let’s Protect Our Green and Pleasant Land
Our land, our waters and our air are Northern Ireland’s natural wealth. They change as we grow as a population and an economy, but how we change them and what we put in them is a choice.
The choices we make will shape what we hand over to the next generation in Northern Ireland. In Northern Ireland’s new century, the DUP is committed to ensuring our natural wealth is passed on to the next generation in a better state than we found it.
The first step will be the 2021 plan – An Environmental Strategy for the first 30 years of Northern Ireland’s new century. This plan will include themes such as:
This strategy must address our growing population and the need to be economically successful to ensure we have the resources to protect our natural wealth.
The enjoyment of our natural wealth is a value held across the political spectrum. Whatever the national and international environmental challenges, we all want clean air, clean water and a clean environment. Northern Ireland’s ease of access to the countryside and coastline is a significant positive of life as well as aiding our tourism potential and health and wellbeing. The 2021 Environment Strategy will be the long-term plan but it will need a programme of actions.
It is often forgotten that land is a limited resource. Northern Ireland’s population is growing and we need to shift to a higher value, higher productivity economy. Many of the environmental actions we need are often land intensive e.g. reforestation, some renewable energies and even environmentally friendly projects in the wrong place cause harm. Therefore, the DUP will support:
The custodians of much of our land are farmers and a key component of our economy. A positive and sustainable partnership is vital for a successful future with how we support farming and rural development central to this. Future support needs tied to efficiency and sustainability as well as changes to the tax system to encourage long-term investment. A particular issue is ammonia pollution. The DUP supports:
The air we breathe has immediate and long-term impacts on heart and respiratory conditions as well as brain development of children. This places further strains on our NHS and harms the next generation.
The present but limited data indicates we have a significant air pollution problem. With a more dispersed population and greater diesel usage than elsewhere in the UK this means we do not have quick and easy options to address these issues, though a shift away from diesel has the added benefit of ending the criminality and environmental harm from fuel smugglers.
For domestic vehicles the industry is proceeding on the path of electrification with Electric Vehicles (EV). For HGVs and buses there is a divergence on what the future technology will be with some opting for electrification and others pursuing CNG (and ultimately hydrogen). The DUP will support:
There will be further proposals of action at a national level with particular benefit to Northern Ireland.
The DUP is committed to a Long-term Public Transport Plan to maximise the reach and attractiveness of public transport. A new Transport Hub recently opened in Londonderry and a similar model will open in Belfast. Passenger numbers and customer satisfaction are improving, and its popularity is likely to continue with new services such as the Glider in Belfast. We will support:
Our aim is to provide a mix between public and private transport infrastructure, improve integration between the various services and ensure customers enjoy a value-for-money quality service.
There is a growing enthusiasm for cycling as a mode of transport. In order to improve connectivity and offer alternatives to car transport, we will support:
Our waters are a significant resource both for various leisure and sporting activities, as well as the water system we rely on each and every day.
On flood protection, the DUP will support:
For our coastline and seas, the DUP will:
With waste we face two challenges. First, why is it waste in the first place? For the design of a product and its packaging, it needs to be encouraged that less is used and what is used can be reused, recycled or upcycled. Second, how we send ever less amounts to landfill and increase our recycling rates.
The different types of waste and the manner of their collection can affect both. Along with recycling itself, these are key features of what is called the ‘Circular’ economy with a potential value for Northern Ireland of £150m. It is how savings can be made and jobs created by dealing with our forms of waste better and generating more revenue for Councils. The DUP supports:
The United Kingdom is a world leader on climate action and this was reflected in Parliament’s decision to increase our CO2 target from 80% of 1990 levels to Net Zero.
The significance and scale of this change should not be under-estimated. With the exception of sustaining the NHS, it is the greatest long-term policy and financial challenge for all levels of government for decades to come. If poorly planned and implemented, these shifts in all aspects of our lives can have a disproportionately negative impact on poorer sections of the community and poorer regions of the UK.
With higher levels of poverty and presently one of the less well-developed regions of the United Kingdom, this means it is vital for Northern Ireland that:
Each constituent part of the United Kingdom’s work on climate action must be based on the distinct opportunities and challenges they face.
The Committee on Climate Change (CCC) recognises this and has recommended different targets for the four constituent parts of the UK that would still enable the nation to achieve its Net Zero target.
The same distance travelled in each part of the UK will deliver the national target but not require a common local target everywhere. It must be recognised that Northern Ireland is the UK region with the greatest distance to travel and sectors that will be the most difficult to transform.
In the recent CCC report on Net Zero, it recommended a target for Northern Ireland of 78-80% reduction in CO2 by 2050. The DUP will:
The DUP has a clear vision for our farmers and is committed to ensuring the necessary policy and financial support to enable all of the different sectors to become more profitable, sustainable and productive.
During the last Parliament through our Confidence and Supply Agreement we secured commitments to the same level of direct support in cash terms as currently received through the Common Agriculture Policy.
Future agriculture policy is best delivered through devolution reflecting the needs of each constituent part of the United Kingdom. We have the opportunity to shape a new agricultural policy to produce the amounts of food we want, to the standards we need, to make our environment better and deliver on climate change goals. The DUP believes:
Through rural development funding the DUP has championed the need for supporting growth and the creation of rural business. We believe that by doing this we will create more wealth and jobs allowing rural communities to thrive.
The DUP have delivered £150m to be invested in an ultra-fast broadband programme prioritising rural areas. This will tackle the digital divide and support rural businesses held back by poor digital access.
The DUP is also aware of the wider social challenges faced by farmers and rural dwellers. We have delivered:
The DUP will continue to deliver on the wider needs of rural dwellers and we want to do more to facilitate greater access to childcare services. Such provision is lacking in many rural areas and restricts the ability of parents to find a satisfactory work-life balance.
Our land, our waters and our air are our natural wealth. It is a common desire that these should be passed on to the next generation in better condition than we found them. Many of the issues around the environment do not stop at the boundaries of the constituent parts of the United Kingdom nor the borders of the United Kingdom.
The integrated nature of our economy reinforces the need to work together and work well. Therefore, we believe a national approach to environmental protection is what is needed. The Food Standards Agency is a non-ministerial government department. This enables it to have:
The DUP is committed to high standards of Animal Care. There are a number of areas where the DUP wants to see further legislative and policy action including:
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