28/02/2006

Independent review set up for environmental agency

Environmental Minister Jeff Rooker has today appointed a panel of independent specialists to take forward a review of environmental protection agency.

The Minister said that the Secretary of State has expressed his commitment to putting environmental issues at the top of the political agenda in Northern Ireland and has demonstrated this by deciding to create an Environment and Renewable Energy Fund.

Lord Rooker said: “Last July, I announced my intention to set in motion a review of Environmental Governance here. I am confirming the appointment of a panel of independent experts to review the structure, management and resourcing of the publicly funded elements of environmental governance.

“The panel is chaired by Tom Burke, supported by Professor Sharon Turner and Gordon Bell. I have asked the panel to make recommendations to improve the performance, responsiveness and accountability of the environmental governance system."

The Minister continued by saying that the review will be participated in approach and the panel will conduct its work in an open fashion, consulting widely with experts, stakeholders and the general public.

He concluded: “This is an opportunity for the people of Northern Ireland to have their voices heard and I encourage individuals and organisations to actively engage with the review.”

The review will be carried out over a twelve-month period and will present and publish a report of its findings to the public in the summer of 2006.

The panel will examine environment protection agencies in other areas and assess the best possible method for Northern Ireland.

(EF/SP)

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