Irwin dismay at ‘dismissive attitude’ to Climate Change Bill concerns

Newry & Armagh DUP Assemblyman William Irwin MLA has said he is concerned by what he termed a “dismissive attitude” displayed by MLAs towards expert advice and industry input on the climate change debate.

Saturday, 3rd July 2021, 11:57 am
Updated Monday, 5th July 2021, 11:51 am

The DAERA committee, of which Mr Irwin is a member, has been considering evidence at length as part of deliberations on the Green Party Climate Change Private Members Bill, a key plank of which wants Northern Ireland to reach net zero by 2045.

Mr Irwin was speaking after the latest stage in the process saw the Committee hear evidence from industry representative body, the Ulster Farmers Union.

He stated: “I am getting increasingly concerned in this debate as I do sense a very clear dismissive attitude by MLAs towards expert advice and industry input on the ramifications of the Green Party Bill.

“It is a unique set of circumstances to be in, as in most cases the advice of experts and industry representatives, in many other instances of law making, would be seen as central and in effect would be what decisions would be based on to move a piece of legislation forward. I can’t imagine that changes to education for instance would be successful without the buy-in of teaching staff and teaching unions. Yet here in this debate, I very much sense a rejection of industry input and worryingly a rejection by MLAs of the UK Climate Change Committee expert advice. That is not grounds to move forward.”

He continued: “It is also fairly unique to be in a position whereby a PMB is progressing when the Department’s own Climate Change Bill is hitting the ground with the backing obviously of the Department’s own officials and the technical assistance and access to climate advice and statistical support. It is with this very much in mind that I fear our MLAs are pushing our farming industry off the edge of a cliff in many respects with this PMB.

“There is of course still time for the rest of the parties to change course and get behind the DAERA Bill and actually listen to the advice on what is reasonable and achievable for UK net zero by 2050 on a United Kingdom wide basis. Northern Ireland can play to its strengths with the plan for 82% by 2050 and avoid destroying the industry and plunging one of Northern Ireland’s strongest performing industries in to crisis. I urge the farming public to get in contact with their MLA’s and make their views known.”