The UK Government are committed to prioritising the environment. As a world leader in tackling climate change, we are the first major economy in the world to legislate for a net zero target. Following the restoration of the Northern Ireland Executive, Northern Ireland Ministers have been in contact with Executive Ministers on a range of issues. The Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs, which leads on environmental issues in Northern Ireland, has recently sought views on an environment strategy for Northern Ireland, and I understand that a summary of its findings will be published in spring this year.
In its submission to the consultation, Sustrans said:
“It is unacceptable there is no specific climate change legislation in Northern Ireland”
“would allow specific policies to be developed to meet emissions targets and adapt…to… risks.”
Given the close connection between the climate emergency and the natural environment emergency, is it not time that Northern Ireland was able to legislate so that it could develop its own climate strategy?
The hon. Lady has raised an important point. We want to work closely with the Northern Ireland Executive on this issue. Clearly these are devolved issues, and I think that the Executive’s response to the consultation on environment strategy will be key to addressing that question.