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End of Brexit transition period shows pressing need for independent environmental protection agency, says Blair

The impending end of the Brexit transition period shows the pressing need for an independent environmental protection agency for Northern Ireland, Alliance Environment spokesperson John Blair MLA has said.

The South Antrim MLA was speaking after Environment Minister Edwin Poots updated the Assembly on the latest North-South Ministerial Council meeting, focusing on environmental matters. The Minister told MLAs there was a recognition it was in the common interests of all to work together to minimise disruption to trade and economic activity as we move towards the end of the Brexit transition period.

“Climate change, pollution and other environmental issues doesn’t stop for borders,” said Mr Blair.

“Effectively addressing these concerns on an all-island basis is dependent on close cross-border co-operation. While I welcome the Minister’s admission on that point today, it will become all the more pressing as we approach the end of the Brexit transition period, with the need for a joined-up to address the challenges it will bring.

“An independent environmental protection agency would help protect Northern Ireland do that in the wake of Brexit, to ensure we are not left any further behind on environmental matters than we already are, and to fight against the possibility of environmental crimes, while enforcing the laws we already have. The current situation in which Northern Ireland is the only part of these islands without an independent agency is unsustainable in this context.”