Once a bill becomes law, the clock starts ticking at that point

Traditional Unionist Voice councillor for Mourne, Harold McKee, joined with several hundred farmers on Tuesday to protest against amendments to the Climate Change (No2) Bill.

Cllr McKee, who is the TUV’s South Down assembly candidate, congratulated the Ulster Farmers’ Union for organising the protest, and the many farmers who gave up their morning to attend.
“There has been umpteen UFU/NIAPA and other agricultural organisations who have enlightened their members on what is contained within the Climate Change Bills,” Cllr McKee commented.

“The farming community have also met with all political parties and most MLAs, to raise the concerns of the industry should any of these bills reach beyond 82 per cent net zero emissions by 2050.
“At the rally we listened to the president and deputy president of the UFU address the gathering, reiterating the dangers of introducing amendments that would undermine the expert advice given by the UK Climate Change Committee, government agricultural researchers and technology professionals within the agri-industry.
“Many of the issues raised by the UFU platform party were well known within the political parties who were meeting in Stormont to debate and vote on the 80 amendments, for example: the introduction of 100 per cent zero emissions by 2045, would see the loss of 14,500 less favoured area farms and 4,500 lowland farms, 1.2 million beef cattle, 1.7 million sheep and 270,000 dairy cattle, 113,000 job losses and the rewetting of 150,000 hectares of peat land etc.”

The Mournes councillor said he was “deeply disappointed” with the outcome of Clare Bailey’s amendment to the 82 per cent emissions by 2050 target.
He continued: “Ms Bailey proposed 100 per cent zero emissions by 2050 and, following a vote by the MLAs, this was carried.

TUV South Down assembly candidate, Harold McKee
TUV South Down assembly candidate, Harold McKee
TUV South Down assembly candidate, Harold McKee

“There is not a lot of difference in five years but the real difference is 100 per cent zero emissions by 2050.

“Do people really believe that in a working environment, zero emissions are achievable by 2050 or indeed any other year they can think of?

“The Green Party’s Clare Bailey has said she doesn’t believe Northern Ireland should grow crops or livestock to feed 10 million people across the UK and we should just feed the two million who live in Northern Ireland.

“If the same attitude is applied across Europe and other countries, we can’t expect any foreign fruit and vegetables imported to Northern Ireland.

“Ms Bailey also says she has ‘based a lot of her findings on taking forward her Private Member’s Bill and introducing these amendments to the Climate Change (No2) Bill, having met farmers who believe this action is crucial in reducing Green House Gases before 2050’.

“One wonders what kind of farmers would agree to their business being decimated before 2050, it would be like a turkey voting for Christmas.”

Cllr McKee added: “I warn all 50 MLAs who voted for the amendment of 100 per cent zero emissions by 2050 that many of the voting public won’t forget how their MLA voted on the amendment.

“This is not just the destruction of the farming sector, but will have a major impact to the consumer, they will have to get used to purchasing meat and milk products that have been imported from across the globe, many with lower health standards and traceability.
“Once any of these bills become law, the clock starts ticking at that point, so we can expect to see a reduction in the number of farm animals, followed by farms, meal and fertiliser suppliers, machinery suppliers, shed and agricultural pre-stressed concrete products and the list goes on.

“This all means less money into the Northern Ireland economy and an increase in unemployment.
“2050 might seem a long way off but we are in 2022 - just 28 years to go - so we can expect a steady decline in all agricultural commodities.
“As usual there will be a winner in this great idea, more environmental inspectors to police the knock-on effects as we head backwards to the farms of 1947, but these extra jobs can be paid for in fines and environmental subsidies withdrawn for non-compliance,” Cllr McKee ended.