Edwin Poots: Climate change legislation would cause devastation to farming in Northern Ireland

Stormont agriculture Minister Edwin Poots has warned that Northern Ireland’s first ever climate bill would cause “devastation” to the agricultural sector.

By Philip Bradfield
Friday, 8th October 2021, 6:11 pm
Updated Friday, 8th October 2021, 6:12 pm
Agriculture Minister Edwin Poots has issued a stark warning about the Green Party bill.
Agriculture Minister Edwin Poots has issued a stark warning about the Green Party bill.

The bill sets a target of zero net greenhouse gas emissions from Northern Ireland by 2045 and establishes a legal framework including five-year plans for emissions cuts.

Earlier this year, Stormont assembly members voted 58 to 29 in favour of moving the bill to its next stage.

The bill was opposed by the DUP and TUV but supported by Sinn Féin, Alliance, the SDLP, the Green Party and UUP.

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Speaking on BBC’s ‘The View’, Mr Poots said supporters of the bill were “prepared to wipe out jobs in farming and factories” and its implementation would cost an extra £900m per year on top of existing climate proposals.

But Green Party leader Clare Bailey, who sponsored the bill, said the science shows “we are at code red for humanity” and that the bill’s net zero target was based on “the best available science”.

Although the bill does not spell out specific measures, it is understood that it would eventually pressurise farmers to reduce their livestock herds to more ‘efficient’ numbers in order to reduce methane production. It is also likely to call for measures to reduce livestock transportation and for changes in land management, which may impact on the use of slurry.

Some farmers, in return, believe that not enough attention is given to the ability of their grassland to absorb carbon emissions.