DUP motion fails to gather support

Two Armagh, Banbridge and Craigavon (ABC) DUP councillors have said they are disappointed that their Climate Change motion tabled on Monday night failed to gather support from other parties within the council.

Saturday, 3rd July 2021, 10:57 am
Lavelle McIlrath
Lavelle McIlrath

Tim McClelland and Lavelle McIlrath said their motion before Monday night’s monthly ABC Council meeting was designed to show support for the local farming and agri-food sector, at a time when proposed legislation at the Assembly could have serious repercussions for production agriculture in Northern Ireland.

Lagan River Councillor McClelland said; “There is currently a Private Members Climate Change Bill going through the Northern Ireland Assembly. This Bill, if enacted, will be very damaging for our farmers and our wider agri-food sector. One proposal sets a target of net zero carbon emissions by 2045 for Northern Ireland. Experts from the UK Climate Change Committee believe this target to be unrealistic and unachievable as agricultural production would be halved by 2045 under this proposal. Indeed Lord Deben, Chair of UK CCC has stated that it would be ‘morally wrong’ to set an unrealistic and unachievable for Northern Ireland.

“My hope in bringing the Motion to Council was that unanimous backing from all parties would send a strong message of support to the thousands of people employed directly and indirectly in the agri-food sector within our Borough. Alas only the DUP councillors and the two independent members supported the Motion. It’s sad that all other Parties, the Ulster Unionists, Sinn Fein, SDLP and Alliance did not support the motion. What message is that to send to our most important industry? A sad result.”

Tim McClelland

Councillor McClelland continued: “All Councillors had the opportunity to vote for my motion at Council and by so doing show tangible support for our farmers. Those who didn’t must answer for their actions. I stand with our farmers.”

Councillor McClelland said the DUP on ABC Council and at the Northern Ireland Assembly will continue working for a realistic, achievable and workable Climate Bill as recently proposed by the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs.

Councillor McIlrath said the original motion was amended by the other parties and was ‘unrecognisable’ from the original motion when finally passed.

He added: “As a DUP group on Council we stand with the representative organisations in the agri food sector on this matter and indeed all of the other major stakeholders as well. It was very disappointing, indeed sad, to see other parties who say they support farming unable to bring themselves to vote for our motion.

“The Agri-food sector across this Borough is huge. As a Council we promote and assist where and when we can and that is absolutely the right thing to do. The implications for the industry if this Bill passes will be a 50% reduction in the beef and dairy sector in this area. That will be catastrophic and indeed there are very few members in this chamber who will not be directly or indirectly impacted by it. By the way experts say that a 50% reduction will not even deliver a net zero Carbon figure by 2045. This is set in stark contrast to a 60% increase in the world demand for food by 2050.

“On average China have opened one mega fossil fuelled power station every week and will continue to do so for the next decade and way beyond. Northern Ireland on the other hand represents 0.04 of global carbon emissions. Farmers have their part to play in reducing Carbon emissions and stand ready and willing to do so but legislation must be fair and balanced and backed up by evidence.

“I would encourage members to take on board and listen to the huge concerns expressed by those who very ably represent the Agri-food industry. As the UFU president said recently ‘our farmers are the climate change solution, not the problem’.

“This Council can send out a very strong message tonight that it stands with the agri-food industry, farmers and the representative farming organisations who have quite rightly spoken out against the Private Members Bill,” Councillor McIlrath said during the debate.