Anna Lo MLA said: “It is vital that Northern Ireland has an independent Environmental Protection Agency and it is important that such an organisation is given strong powers to enforce regulations robustly. We need a strong independent organisation looking after our environment which can to send out a tough message against polluters.
“We want to make the most of the potential we have regarding the green economy, and the creation of an independent EPA would demonstrate that we are a world leader on green issues.
“An independent EPA would help us deliver joined-up action and bold and pro-active measures on the environment. Its establishment could also help us in meeting our EU targets and avoiding fines from the EU.
“I sincerely hope that swift progress can be made on creating an independent EPA because the sooner it is done, the sooner everyone will get the benefit of a strong organisation protecting our environmental resources which are so important to our tourism and agricultural industries, as well as to the whole of society.”