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Northern Ireland Policy Update Jan 21

Policy update NFFN

The Department for Agriculture Environment and Rural Affairs have recently launched two important consultations that will shape the future of farming and the environment in Northern Ireland, focusing on the areas of climate change and post-Brexit environmental governance.

Climate Change Bill discussion document

To date, Northern Ireland is the only country in the UK without climate change legislation, meaning we have not had any legally binding Greenhouse Gas reduction targets to drive action on climate change locally.  Following the recent launch of the Committee on Climate Change sixth Carbon Budget which provided detailed recommendations on how the UK can meet Net-Zero by 2050, a consultation has been launched on a Northern Ireland Climate Change Bill. This landmark piece of legislation would create a framework to drive climate action in Northern Ireland. This will legally underpin Northern Ireland’s contribution to meeting UK Net Zero whilst assisting in delivering international agreements and commitments on climate change.

The Nature Friendly Farming Network welcomes these first steps in delivering this landmark legislation, which will help ensure that Northern Ireland plays a key role in the UK’s ambitions to meet Net-Zero by 2050. We believe that Nature Friendly Farming has a vital role in achieving these goals and that it can support the UK Agriculture sector to reach net-zero emissions by 2040. Farmers can help lead the way, land well managed for nature helps store carbon, helping to mitigate climate change, whilst many actions taken to reduce a farms carbon footprint can make economic sense. However, recovering our wildlife and achieving a net zero agriculture sector will require more than easy wins and action must be underpinned by comprehensive policy and legislation.

Environmental Plans, Principles and Governance for Northern Ireland

Leaving the European Union has significant implications for environmental legislation in Northern Ireland. The UK’s membership of the EU provided the framework for most of our environmental policy and legislation, including important aspects of environmental principles embedded in EU treaties and governance from the Court of Justice. As such there are important considerations to be had regarding the oversight of, and accountability for, the environment in Northern Ireland. Parts of the UK Environment Bill will apply to Northern Ireland including: environmental principles, environmental improvement plans and the new government watchdog – the Office for Environmental Protection (OEP). DAERA has launched a discussion document on these matters, seeking stakeholder input. The Network will be responding to this consultation calling for strong  environmental protection and governance which helps underpin a transition towards Nature Friendly Farming as standard.