David Ford said: “We are at a critical stage on environmental protection in Northern Ireland. We are going to push Sammy Wilson to change his failing and outdated approach to green issues.
“I have said publicly a number of times that the battle for an independent Environmental Protection Agency will continue. Sammy Wilson’s emperors new clothes-style re-branding of the Environment and Heritage Service was a disgrace and a snub to local people. He wants to give the impression that he cares, but he does not. He was quite happy to do a smoke and mirrors re-launch of the EHS, even though the move was of no extra benefit to our environment whatsoever.
“The Review team’s report made it clear that the Environment Agency needed to cover far more than the EHS did, suggesting some functions should be transferred from other departments, such as Agriculture and Regional Development. We saw the need for this during this summer’s flooding, with interconnected responsibilities between the Environment Agency, Rivers Agency and other departments.
“Northern Ireland could face large financial penalties from the European Union if the Stormont Executive does not bring standards up to scratch in the coming months. The measures currently in place here are not tough enough, and the aim of our motion tomorrow is to address this problem.
“I am extremely pleased that Alliance has been successful in putting this important issue on the Assembly agenda. I look forward to the debate and am expecting a very robust exchange of views between myself and Sammy Wilson.”