Assembly Committee Calls on Minister to Reinstate Crucial Funding

Session: 2009/2010

Date: 11 February 2010

Reference: ENV 06/09/10

In a key Assembly debate, the Northern Ireland Assembly Committee for the Environment has called on Environment Minister Edwin Poots, MLA to reinstate funding to the Lough Neagh and Lower Bann Advisory Committees as a matter of urgency. The debate follows a series of recent meetings by the Committee where members were informed that the decision by the Northern Ireland Environment Agency (NIEA), to withdraw funding was made without any prior warning or consultation.

Committee Chair, Dolores Kelly said that the Committee was disappointed by the Department, and consequently the Northern Ireland Environment Agency’s, decision to cut vital funding.

“Since inception in 1994, the Advisory Committees have been extremely successful in providing a holistic approach to the conservation, management and sustainable development of the Lough Neagh and Lower Bann areas. The Committee is deeply concerned that the Department’s decision to remove funding has occurred without a proper assessment of the work of the Advisory Committees and a lack of appropriate consultation.

“The Committee became aware of this issue following a letter from the Lough Neagh Advisory Committee and has sought to gather information and feedback from all stakeholders before deciding to put forward this motion for debate. We have called on the Minister to recognise the important social and environmental role played by the Advisory Committees and why continued funding is crucial to maintaining and further enhancing the economic viability of the Lough Shore and Lower Bann areas. “

Speaking after the debate, the Chairperson commended the Minister’s commitment to reinstate the conditional funding and noted the important role the Department now has in encouraging the nine local councils involved to continue their funding of these vital Advisory Committees.

ENDS

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