David Ford said: “If the Minister won’t make the right decision, we will try to make sure that the Executive does it instead. Arlene Foster failed to implement the findings of the Review of Environmental Governance and now the Executive must examine her decision and hopefully overturn it. If they do not overturn it, the DUP and Sinn Fein will be left with even more egg on their faces.
“From as far back as 1962 when the Abercorn Report was published, research has stated that Northern Ireland badly needs an independent Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). There are simply not enough safeguards against abuses of our environment. You only have to look at the horror stories about people from Northern Ireland having to foot the bill for public bodies’ failure to meet EU green guidelines. This is totally unacceptable and creating an EPA would be the best way to tackle this problem.
“Arlene Foster’s ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’ attitude sends out the message that Northern Ireland is living in the dark ages as regards green issues. The system is faulty, because there is no independent scrutiny of the practices of government departments who themselves are one of the biggest polluters in the region.
“Most members of the Environment Committee, on which I sit, as well as the public want to see the creation of an EPA. The Minister last week denied them it, and now we are trying to right this wrong.”
NOTES TO EDITORS
What David Ford has submitted is a ‘petition to refer a ministerial decision to the Executive committee’. The decision was “The failure of the Minister of the Environment to implement the recommendations of the Review of Environmental Governance and establish an independent Environmental Protection Agency”.
The Speaker will now consult the Assembly parties as to whether this is a “matter of public concern”. If so, he will refer it to the Executive.
The petition has been signed by 30 MLAs, mostly from Alliance, SDLP and UUP, including, Mark Durkan (SDLP), Danny Kennedy (UUP), Brian Wilson (Green Party), Dawn Purvis (PUP) and Kieran Deeny (Independent), as well as David Ford.