He was speaking after DAERA missed the deadline to publish its first Environment Improvement Plan, a statutory duty under the UK Environment Act.
The South Antrim MLA said: “The crisis facing our environment is only being accelerated and exacerbated by the lack of a functioning Executive to drive change.
“The RSPB’s State of Nature report has already highlighted that Northern Ireland’s natural habitat is under threat, with 11% of our species being threatened with extinction, and our woodland coverage being amongst the lowest in Europe. We are not on track to rectify this in accordance with urgent environmental and climate need.
“Now we have another failure from DAERA to publish a key document which only further highlights how Northern Ireland is lagging behind on its environmental commitments. There is seriously no time for delay.
“Whilst I realise DAERA intends to launch the Environment Strategy in the near future, there remains a need for Assembly scrutiny, the engagement of the Assembly Environment Committee, and the lead which should be given by an appointed Minister.”