SDLP launches consultation on legally-binding targets to tackle biodiversity loss

SDLP Assembly member Dolores Kelly has launched a public consultation on proposals to introduce legally-binding targets to tackle biodiversity loss in Northern Ireland.

The Upper Bann MLA claimed that wildlife and plant species are in retreat in Northern Ireland faster than anywhere else on these islands.

‘Biodiversity crisis’

“Northern Ireland is experiencing a biodiversity crisis. At this moment, 11% of our indigenous species, representing more than 270 animals and plants, are at risk of extinction if urgent action is not taken soon,” she said.

During the course of this dreadful pandemic, we have all had an opportunity to reconnect with nature and our local environment. It is critical that we all do what we can to protect native species and preserve our rich biodiversity.

“I am committed to doing all I can to make sure that future generations can enjoy the wide range of flora and fauna that too many of us take for granted.

“That is why I have launched a consultation on my proposal to give a legal underpinning to biodiversity targets that the Executive has failed to meet.

“I am also planning to create a statutory timeline for the introduction of an Independent Environment Agency.

“It’s time to increase the urgency around these issues before it’s too late. Our consultation will run for the next eight weeks and I would love to receive as many responses as possible so that we can maximise the opportunity to protect our environment and our local species.”

Proposals

The Environment and Nature Restoration Bill consultation proposes both short-term and long-term targets for environmental impact, including air quality, biodiversity, water quality, marine life, and resource efficiency and waste reduction.

It also suggests the creation of a “wildlife-rich nature recovery network” in the region as well as proposing that planning and developments create a net gain for biodiversity.

The consultation will run until March 8, 2021.