Green Party points to absence of EPA provision in budget

The Assembly’s sole Green Party MLA, Brian Wilson, focussed on environmental issues in his contribution to the debate on the budget [which can be viewed here for now], and he made a point of identifying the absence of any provision within the three-year budget for an independent Environmental Protection Agency [EPA]. Meanwhile, in a report published yesterday, the Independent Water Review Panel has recommended that just such an independent agency should be established.. and then there’s the official complaint to the European Commission that the Department of the Environment is currently in breach of EU laws by not having an independent EPA in place.. Adds According to Mark Devenport, on his blog, the Environment minister, the DUP’s Arlene Foster, reckons it would cost £2.5million over a period of 4 years to set up an Environmental Protection Agency.

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  • fair_deal

    Surely the regulatory functions fall to exisitng structures within government (even if they don’t seem to do them particularly well), would the reallocation of those responsibilities to an independent body also not mean the re-allocation of the associated budget?

  • Pete Baker

    fd

    Answered above via Mark Devenport’s blog.

  • Mick Fealty

    The EHS is currently compromised by sitting in the same departmental silo as Planning and it has a strictly advisory role: ie, it’s recommendations can be safely ignored by other departments.

  • fair_deal

    Is this £2.5m the ‘total’ cost or the ‘additional’ cost for establishing an EPA?

  • Pete Baker

    It’s given as the cost “to set up an Environmental Protection Agency” – which doesn’t currently exist.

    I don’t have any more information than that.

  • Crataegus

    What can we do today; let’s create another Department.

    What will it cost; A snip at £2,500,000 per annum. Sure we have lots of cash.

    What will it do; Protect the “Environment” whatever the hell that is.

    Isn’t there Departments that are already supposed to be doing that; Well yes but they are not.

    I must be mad, someone is not doing their job so we employ someone else to monitor them doing their job?*!!*?

    I hope the finance will be achieved by staff reductions and cuts achieved elsewhere in that department. £2,500,000 per annum would be well spent on ensuring children in deprived areas reach basic levels of numeracy and literacy or care for the elderly. Ensuring pensioners don’t die of hypothermia is high on my list of environmental needs. Sanctimonious, well paid environmentalists in suits fairly low.

  • Crataegus

    OOPs it is £2.5 over 4 years not one, was half asleep earlier, still think it should be made from savings though.

  • joeCanuck

    The savings could easily be made from reduced environmental clean up costs if those diesel washing facilities close to the border were closed down.

  • Crataegus

    Crataegus,
    better to just allow developers to build houses where there is no waste infrastructure and let the raw sewage be pumped into the sea.

    Where else in Europe would the Environment and Heritage Service not be allowed to object to planning applications in areas with inadequate sewage treatment.

    After all, without an EPA the authorities can just ignore reality as pointed out by Mick.

    Then of course there’s the issue of EU fines to consider.

  • Crataegus

    I DID NOT POST 9 ABOVE!!

    Mad I may be but I have not started posting to myself.

    georgemburns I think.

    If the planning Service were doing their job properly there would not be development without the necessary infrastructure.

    It is not the developers that are at fault. What is at fault is where they are being forced yes FORCED to build.

    No housing in rural areas, Environmentalists cheer I say ill considered. Why? Simple really, it is envisaged that 60% of new housing will be the Urban area. There is not the infrastructure in place, to deal with the increased load.

    If however we allowed new villages or hamlets in the countryside, near transport routes developers could easily build in proper sewerage treatment for each development and the plants could be maintained by management contracts.

    In Belfast all developers can do is build in holding tanks for rain water to mitigate against overloading the sewerage system with rain water during periods of heavy rain. If you are truely concerned about sewerage reconsider rural planning policy. (Of questionable legality anyway).

    You should not need an EPA to make authorities do what is necessary. It is simply bad management. The fines will do more to clarify the mind than the EPA.

  • interested

    I suppose the reason we don’t know what an EPA would cost might be something to do with the fact that the body set up to make recommendations on the issue didn’t bother their a*se making any comments/investigation into the cost issue.

    Surely if Government did its job there wouldn’t be a need for an EPA, and with our now internal and external opposition in the Executive and Assembly there should be more than enough scrutiny to make sure there are watchdogs around every corner on the environment.

  • aquifer

    ‘Then of course there’s the issue of EU fines to consider.’

    It is likely to end up cheaper having motivated EPA professionals making government improve water quality rather than paying civil servants to make excuses why not. Years ago parts of the water service used to be sloth central, with long liquid lunches, the lot. Having external oversight stops the civil service building more and more senior salaries on a smaller and smaller capital budget. A pretty departmental brochure in full colour on heavy card telling us all is well is not environmental protection.