The names and functions of Northern Ireland’s Government Departments will change from 8 May 2016 onwards, and the number of Departments will decrease from 12 to nine, writes By Noel Lavery, Permanent Secretary designate of DAERA.
The new Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA) will have responsibility for the majority of agriculture, environment, marine, fisheries, forestry, sustainability and rural affairs issues, including:
q Existing Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (DARD) functions, including Forest Service but excluding Rivers Agency.
q Environmental functions from the Department of the Environment (DOE) including the Northern Ireland Environment Agency (NIEA) but excluding ‘Historic Environment’ functions.
q Inland fisheries functions from the Department of Culture, Arts and Leisure (DCAL).
q Sustainability functions from the Office of the First Minister and Deputy First Minister (OFMDFM).
From 8 May, drainage and flooding issues will remain the responsibility of Rivers Agency, within the new Department of Infrastructure (DfI) (www.infrastructure-ni.gov.uk), and historic environment issues will transfer to the new Department for Communities (DfC) (www.communities-ni.gov.uk).
The creation of the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs will allow us to develop synergies between the range of functions coming together, enabling the administration to work more efficiently.
It is our intention that business will continue as usual during the changeover with disruption to services kept to a minimum. Ultimately, this is an opportunity to provide a better, more cohesive service to citizens.
Staff contacts and telephone numbers will also remain the same, but there will be a new website – www.daera-ni.gov.uk – and new e-mail addresses for staff, which will take form e.g. firstname.lastname@example.org.
More information on the responsibilities of the nine restructured Departments can be found at: https://www.nidirect.gov.uk/articles/changes-government-departments