A summary of the Assembly parties’ main manifesto commitments on the natural environment, including climate change and waste management.
Minister: Mark H Durkan MLA
Assembly Private Secretary:
Karen McKevitt MLA
Spokeswoman: Dolores Kelly MLA
One of the SDLP’s main Assembly manifesto commitments – the Marine Act – passed its final stage in May 2013 and is now awaiting royal assent. The party also planned to bring forward a binding Northern Ireland Climate Change Act.
The party’s 2011 manifesto pledged “realistic investment” for the Green New Deal and suggested a single ‘department of energy and sustainability’ to deal with all environmental issues. The party also wants to update the curriculum to give the environment more prominence.
An independent, all-Ireland environmental protection agency (EPA) is again proposed, along with an all-island waste strategy. The Republic’s independent EPA was established in 1992 but the Northern Ireland Environment Agency (established in 2008) is a government agency. The SDLP has held the environment brief in the Executive since May 2011.
Assembly Spokeswoman: Pam Brown MLA
Ian Paisley Junior MP
The DUP Assembly manifesto supports a 25 per cent reduction in greenhouse gases between 1990 and 2025.
Several members are sceptical about climate change and this target is lower than the Programme for Government’s 35 per cent target for the same timeframe.
The party wants to see the Civil Service estate becoming carbon-neutral and seeks continued improvements in household recycling and air quality, strong enforcement against waterways pollution, and more allotments.
Green spaces and ‘wildlife corridors’ would halt the loss of habitats and biodiversity; farmland birds are highlighted as a priority.
The DUP proposes a ‘partnership approach’ to increase woodland cover by enlarging existing native woodlands and creating links between them.
Spokesman: Tom Elliott MLA
In its Assembly manifesto, the UUP prioritised a “representative advisory board” for the Northern Ireland Environmental Agency and a statutory duty to promote sustainable development and planning. The party also supported the UK’s drive to reduce carbon emissions, a Marine Act, and improvements to facilities and public access in publicly owned woodland.
Assembly Spokesman: Cathal Boylan MLA
Oireachtas Spokesman: Brian Stanley TD
Sinn Féin’s environmental priorities in the Assembly are to support the implantation of the Marine Act, more support for allotments and community farms, “adequate resources” for the Green New Deal and the doubling of forestry cover.
Its Westminster manifesto calls for a 30 per cent reduction in carbon emissions between 1990 and 2010, partly achieved through “low, or even zero, carbon zones” for housing.
The party, though, opposes a single waste authority claiming that centralising waste management could “support a privatisation agenda”. Waste incineration is opposed with mechanical biological treatment and anaerobic digestion with combined heat and power outlined as the alternatives. An all-island ‘zero waste’ strategy and EPA are also backed.
Spokeswoman: Anna Lo MLA
Alliance wants to see a “robust” sustainable development strategy and a regional Climate Change Act. It calls for a 40 per cent reduction in carbon emissions over the 1990-2020 timeframe. The party also advocates an independent EPA, higher targets for woodland creation, and bans on hunting and snaring.
UKIP is sceptical on global warming. The party would repeal the Climate Change Act, ban onshore wind farms and reduce “environmental bureaucracy” to a minimum.
The party promises to meet councils’ environmental obligations “efficiently but cost effectively” in its Assembly manifesto. In the general election campaign, it said that climate change was caused by “many drivers… including uncontrollable natural forces”.
The Green Party strongly backed the Green New Deal in the 2011 election campaign. Other manifesto proposals included an independent EPA, a Climate Change Act, recycling 70 per cent of waste by 2020, opposing incineration and reinstating the Sustainable Development Commission (abolished in March 2011). The party wants to minimise the use of harmful chemicals in agriculture and supports localised organic farming.
The new unionist party has not yet published environmental policies but these are expected to be launched at its first party conference, to be held in November.