750 attend Stormont rally

Ulster Farmers’ Union (UFU) president Victor Chestnutt told a crowd of approximately 750 farmers and agri food representatives, who gathered at Stormont today (Tuesday) that MLAs must pass climate change legislation that is rooted in science.
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The rally was timed to coincide with the beginning of a debate at Stormont, leading to the introduction of bespoke climate change legislation for Northern Ireland.

The Union leadership is deeply concerned that amendments tabled for inclusion in the Executive Bill, endorsed by farm minister Edwin Poots, could lead to the introduction of draconian targets, which would act to decimate Northern Ireland’s livestock farming sectors.

These include a Green Party proposal to mandate Northern Ireland to secure a net zero carbon status by 2045.

“This measure would destroy our livestock farming sectors,” stressed UFU president Victor Chestnutt.

“We would be left with nothing more than a cottage industry.

“Currently our farming and food industries can feed 10m people throughout the UK and beyond.

“This level of output and job creation must be retained in full.”

Significantly, Chestnutt believes that the farming sector can meet what he describes as realistic climate change targets moving forward.

He continued: “The farming and food sectors want to see the introduction of realistic climate change legislation now.

“But it must be driven by science.

“Many of the amendments being proposed by the political groups at Stormont, including the Green Party and Sinn Féin, do not reflect current scientific thinking on how climate change can best be tackled.”

The Union’s preferred climate change targets are those currently contained within the Edwin Poots bill.

If enacted, this would see Northern Ireland achieving an 82 per cent net carbon reduction by 2050.

“These figures were established by the UK’s Committee for Climate Change,” stressed the Union president.

“So the question is this: why are so many of our politicians failing to recognise the opinions expressed my hundreds of world-leading scientists? I am totally baffled.”

Chestnutt concluded: “The time for party politics is over.

“Stormont must follow the CCC experts and get on with finding a way forward that works for all of society including our farmers.

“We know the journey ahead will not be easy, we know we have a big role to play, and change is coming, but we are up for that challenge.

“Wiping out our farm businesses is not the way to address climate change.

“It shouldn’t have even become an option to begin with.”

Union deputy president, David Brown, also addressed the meeting.

Again, he highlighted the absolute importance of Northern Ireland’s climate change legislation reflecting the most up-to-date scientific thinking.

“Once the legislation is in place, there is no going back.

“The agri sectors in Scotland are already finding this to be the case,” he further explained.

“Specifically, the legislation put in place there is shaping almost every aspect of the current legislative process, where farming and food in now concerned.

“And the same will be the case here in Northern Ireland as we look to the future,” he concluded.