Lyons urges people to have their say on Environment Governance issues

Date published: 17 February 2021

Environment Minister Gordon Lyons today encouraged people to take an active role in shaping Northern Ireland’s approach to environmental plans, principles and governance.

Minister of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs, Gordon Lyons, MLA

A discussion paper, highlighting three specific elements of the UK Government’s Environment Bill, which is currently making its way through Parliament, was launched by the then Environment Minister Edwin Poots on 10 December 2020 and is due to close on 26 February 2021.

Encouraging people to register their views on the document before time runs out, Minister Lyons said: “Environmental principles are at the core of international environmental law and, following the end of the EU withdrawal transition period, I am keen to ensure that Northern Ireland continues to benefit from the application of these important principles during the policy making process.”

The Minister continued: “Responses to this discussion document will inform the framework for environmental policies which support Green Growth. This will be central to the Executive’s co-designed Green Growth Strategy and Delivery Framework which aims to transform our society towards net zero by 2050, protect and enhance our environment and sustainably grow our economy by embedding a Green Growth approach in future Government policies and business strategies. The measures covered in this consultation will go towards ensuring the effective environmental governance required to achieve this. It is therefore vital that we all take an active role in shaping our approach to environmental plans, principles and governance.”

The discussion document seeks the views of a wide range of stakeholders on:

  • Environmental Improvement Plans, which would require DAERA to produce long-term strategic plans for the environment;
  • A policy statement on the application of environmental principles by all Departments and UK Government Ministers when making policy for NI; and
  • Arrangements for independent environmental oversight.

Minister Lyons concluded: “Our environment is not only valuable in its own right; it also facilitates our health and wellbeing and sustains our economic growth. However, achieving this economic growth at the cost of its degradation through over-exploitation or pollution is not sustainable. Protecting and enhancing our environment is a priority and I would therefore encourage you to consider this important document carefully and take an active role in shaping our approach to environmental plans, principles and governance.”

The discussion document ( will remain open for comment until 26 February 2021.

Notes to editors: 

1. The UK Government’s Environment Bill was introduced to Parliament on 30 January 2020 and is currently at Report Stage in the House of Commons.

2. None of the provisions of the UK Environment Bill relating to NI devolved matters can be implemented here without the agreement of local Ministers or, in most cases, the Assembly.

3. The environmental principles are:

  • the principle that environmental protection should be integrated into the making of policies;
  • the principle of preventative action to avert environmental damage;
  • the precautionary principle, so far as relating to the environment;
  • the principle that environmental damage should as a priority be rectified at source; and
  • the polluter pays principle.

4. The Office for Environmental Protection will be created by the Environment Bill. It will be a new, independent statutory body with the principal objective of holding government to account for implementing environmental law and thereby contributing to environmental protection and the improvement of the natural environment. The functioning of the OEP in Northern Ireland will be subject to the approval of the NI Assembly.

5. All media queries should be directed to the DAERA Press Office:

6. Follow DAERA on Twitter and Facebook

7. The Executive Information Service operates an out of hours service for media enquiries only between 1800hrs and 0800hrs Monday to Friday and at weekends and public holidays. The duty press officer can be contacted on 028 9037 8110.

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