Anna Lo MLA said: “Northern Ireland needs an independent Environmental Protection Agency. In order for legislation to be effective we need a robust and well-resourced, independent mechanism for monitoring and enforcement.
“Although I welcome the forthcoming Marine Bill, I must underline my disappointment that there is no mention of a Marine Management Organisation. This is just another example of where an independent EPA could act to create a joined-up approach in protecting the environment where there are gaps in legislation.
“An independent EPA would not only protect our environment, but also would be a good financial investment given the potential fines EU could impose on us. We only need to look at Strangford Lough and the potential infraction fines we face over the deterioration of horse-mussels to see why an independent EPA is crucial.
“An independent EPA would act to safeguard our environment, tourism, agriculture sector and would assist us in avoiding large EU infraction fines which could cripple our economy.”