“If it’s not broke, why fix it..”

Part one of the Hearts and Minds interview with the Environment Minister, the DUP’s Arlene Foster, is here, but the clip below begins with the key question of why we remain the only region of the archipelago not to have an independent Environmental Protection Agency despite the Review of Environmental Governance’s recommendation. The minister’s claim that she hasn’t rejected that report is based on her apparently cherry-picking some of its proposals. But when those proposals all followed on from the main recommendation – to set up an Independent EPA – it’s not a claim that stands up to scrutiny. And, as one of the review panel members said, the minister appears to be still “precisely missing the point” about independence – as well as failing to address the High Court ruling on Area Plans. There’s also another reference to the Scottish EPA – now the minister is apparently “working on a better regulation agenda with the Scottish EPA..” Has anyone told them that..
Another argument put in the interview was in relation to accountability.

But here’s what the independent Scottish EPA has to say about that.

The agency board is responsible to Scottish Ministers, with SEPA officers reporting to a specific minister and department at the Scottish Executive. Our corporate management team is responsible to the agency board, and there is a formal scheme of delegated authority to board sub-committees and SEPA officers.

The agency board members are appointed by the First Minister and they set SEPA’s direction. The three regional boards act as the ‘eyes and ears’ of SEPA, with members appointed from a range of backgrounds and locations.

Around half of our funding comes from the Scottish Executive, with the other half charged to operators that we regulate, under the polluter-pays principle. Accordingly, we are accountable through Ministers and officials at the Scottish Executive for what we do and how we spend our money.

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  • Driftwood

    Arlene didn’t actually say ANYTHING last night, that would have the remotest impact on anyone here. Much ado about nothing. Oh,1 exception, she does intend to create another 40 civil service jobs to do something or other. Hopeless.

  • Buile Suibhne

    What is it about the built heritage community that it refuses to see beyond its own narrow agenda: buildings before people!
    Ironically, not having an EPA will enable planning reforms to be put in place without obstacles and end up damaging the very built heritage itself.
    Friends of the Eath do your worst and Europe bring on those fines.
    Jim Wells for Environment Minister!

  • The Raven

    The “built heritage” “community”, as you put it, refuses to look beyond its own narrow agenda because there’s no one else that will do so. There’s so little left, they have to fight for every scrap.

    We are well below the UK average for maintaining and preserving the built environment. The race for glass and steel has seen to that in Belfast and Derry alone has seen to that. Anybody been in the Harbour Commissioners Offices five years ago? Anybody been in it now? A perfect case in point.

    The agency in charge of all this prefers to de-list, rather than actively seek private sector input to maintain quality buildings. Their so-called select list of craftsmen is a joke.

    I have personal experience of how one local specialist refuses to be on that list precisely because it contains as many charlatans as it does craftsmen.

    We all know what happens when a TPA is violated, or a listed building is knocked down in a hurry – a derisory fine, and a “carry on about your business”. On the North Coast, we have ample examples of the piss-poor job EHS has done. Check out Nevin’s blog should you not believe me.

    £3.9m for listed building grant assistance? The restoration of one sliding sash window is nearly £1000. Respect for any aspect of the environment ON THIS WHOLE ISLAND is a government-led joke, and shouldn’t be considered as anything other.

    Complain all you will about Mainland – but not even a eighth of what has gone on here would have been allowed across the water.

  • The accusing finger has been pointed at farmers but the Future of Northern Ireland’s Planning System and the Annual Environment Conference were both sponsored by Carson McDowell in association with Foster’s DOE, not the Ulster Farmer’s Union.

    Is the Seaport (NI) Limited plan to construct a new visitor centre at the Giant’s Causeway dead in the water or could it be resurrected? Could the Minister be ‘minded’ to change her mind again? Rumours emanating from the civil service and picked up by a councillor in another part of Co Antrim indicate that the need for FOI requests on this topic are likely to continue for some time.

  • [aside]I understand some councillors in Larne are avid readers of Slugger and NALIL. The former is understandable but why the latter?

    Well it seems that the developer, whom Arlene Foster once claimed to know nothing about, is extending his ’empire’ to the outskirts of Larne.

    Perhaps Slugger’s Larne contributor could flesh out the details. Is IPjr one of the lobbyists or are other politicians carrying the torch in south-east Antrim?

    No doubt, Samuel Wilson, DUP MP and MLA, will be keeping a close eye on developments and, perhaps, those ‘lazy journalists’ will be keeping a close eye on him 😉