DAERA officials urged to carry out audit

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Serious concerns have been raised by members and industry representatives at the AERA Committee meeting following last week’s EU referendum decision.

The SDLP MLA for Mid Ulster Patsy McGlone says people need answers and has requested a full audit of the implications for Northern Ireland’s agriculture and environment industry.

He said: “We heard concerns today from right across this sector – from agriculture groups, businesses, conservation and environmental lobbyists – every one is anxious about their future. Prior to the vote, many of us warned that exiting the European Union would be disastrous, and the evidence is beginning to emerge already.

“87% of farming subsidies comes from the EU and farmers are asking what support they can expect now. They are rightly alarmed to hear that the First Minister is only now instructing officials to carry out contingency planning. There are countless jobs tied up with EU funding in rural development, agri-food, environmental and conservation projects and the people who stand to be affected are very worried. That is why I today asked officials to carry out an audit in respect of the impact of a possible Brexit. We must all appreciate the consequences in terms of a loss of EU funding for the departments, industry, stakeholders and other arm length bodies, as well as the implications for trade and businesses. It should also be made clear exactly what legislation is directly linked to EU regulations.”