David Ford said: “This Review is an extremely good example of how to consider necessary reforms to governance. I welcome this report and the broad thrust of its conclusions.
“It is clear that there are many environmental problems in Northern Ireland and the current structures do not work well. In particular there is a conflict between the role of civil servants advising the Minister and taking a wider responsibility for environmental regulation.
“Alliance recommended the establishment of an independent environmental protection agency, and we welcome the support of the review group. It is important that the independent agency is given full powers over issues such as biodiversity and environmental protection, and is not afraid to use them.
“I appreciate that there are concerns amongst some groups that their needs will not be taken into account. However, a board of twelve members is more able to take account of the range of interests than the civil services structures.
“Responsibility now lies with the Minister and the Executive to take this issue forward, for the good of everyone in Northern Ireland. Alliance expects that the Minister will make an early statement on her intentions and I look forward to discussing this in the Environment Committee.”