Anna Lo MLA said: “I am very unhappy that the Environment Minister made these cuts without consulting the Assembly Committee or the groups that would be affected. We had asked him to attend a meeting two weeks ago, but he only saw fit to send a letter. It is disappointing that we had to force the Minister to appear before the Committee after he announced these cuts.
“The Minister has shown a total lack of respect for the Assembly, with his lack of engagement with the Committee, who only becoming aware of these cuts from the groups themselves or through the media.
“The Minister was unable to explain why he only announced these cuts at the end of March instead of earlier in the year, which would have given these groups more time to prepare their budgets. I have previously queried his budget plans as I do not believe it is strategic or sustainable.
“These cuts could jeopardise some of these groups. I believe he is targeting these groups as an easy way to save money instead of looking to make efficiency savings within his own Department. He is failing to show leadership on the protection of the environment.”