How the government’s Environment Bill is abandoning Northern Ireland

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Brexit raises dark environmental prospects for Northern Ireland. The Environment Bill proposed by the UK government will only cover England, as environment is a devolved matter in the UK legal system. While Scottish and Welsh governments have promised to uphold high environmental standards and also have commenced preparations, nothing has been planned in Northern Ireland (NI). Green Alliance highlighted that as NI has not had a functioning government since January 2017, there is a real risk of the environment being left behind. There is further cause for concern considering that NI is the only country in the UK without an independent protection agency and where environmental governance is allegedly already weak. Poor environmental governance will not only affect NI, but also the rest of the UK and Ireland. Moreover, the Office for Environmental Protection (OEP) as set out in the Environment Bill will not be able to replace the Commission’s role, which amongst others is to ensure that EU Member States do not harm each other.

While NI is not able to participate in the co-designing of the UK Bill without a Minister, one solution has been to leave open the potential to extend the remit of the Bill to NI.

Green Alliance article on Northern Ireland

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