Edwin Poots: Proposed climate change legislation is ‘Disneyworld Bill’ says incoming DUP leader
Environment Minister Edwin Poots has described proposed legislation to slash emissions in Northern Ireland as a “Disneyworld Bill”.
Green Party NI leader Clare Bailey’s Private Member’s Bill, which proposes that the area commits to achieving net-zero carbon emissions by 2045, passed its second Assembly stage earlier this month, meaning it will now go before a Stormont committee for further scrutiny.
The Bill, which also envisages the establishment of a Northern Ireland Climate Office, has been supported by Sinn Fein, the SDLP, UUP, Alliance Party, People Before Profit and a number of independent MLAs.
But new DUP leader Mr Poots has developed his own climate change Bill, which he told the Assembly had been with the Executive from March 24.
During ministerial question time he was asked if he had had advance sight of Ms Bailey’s Private Member’s Bill.
He said: “I have had no input into the Private Member’s Bill and it was not consulted upon with the public in the first instance and there are serious flaws in it.
“There is the risk of job losses in the agri-food sector which employs over 100,000 people, and if you take 50% of the beef reduction and 50% dairy reduction then you are going to have job losses.
“It would also lead to the premature scrappage of assets, high quality dairy cows and beef cows may have to be slaughtered at a much earlier age and therefore that is not a benefit to the environment.”
Sinn Fein MLA Philip McGuigan said: “The current Private Member’s Bill supported by this Assembly is a response to your failure to act on this issue.
“Given the tight timeframe would the Minister not agree that his time would be better spent engaging with the existing Bill rather than attempting to belatedly bring forward his own Bill?”
Mr Poots responded: “I have had a paper with the Executive since March 24. I am now going to provide them a full copy of the Bill so they have no excuses not to move this forward.
“The legislation is there, that will be going before the Executive and that will be legislation that has consulted on and work has been done on the costs.
“We can produce a Disneyworld Bill from anywhere and put it out there and say this is what is good for Northern Ireland, but it will not be Disneyworld when the farmers in West Tyrone are driven off the hills because they can’t produce their beef because of a climate change Bill that Sinn Fein has supported.
“I said I couldn’t bring forward a Bill in three months because I had to go through a consultation process, that was accurate. The fact that another Bill was rushed leads to rushed legislation which is bad legislation.”
Mr Poots added: “We all say we might not have a planet in a number of years but we will not have life if we don’t have food on our tables.
“Food production is one of the most important tasks anywhere in the world and I am not prepared to take the quality food production that exists in Northern Ireland and offset that to some other part of the world where they have lower animal welfare standards, lower worker standards, lower carbon standards.”
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