Things have come to a halt says group planning for Brexit’s environmental impact

The border between Londonderry and Donegal at Bridgend
The border between Londonderry and Donegal at Bridgend

A committee planning for Brexit’s environmental impact in Northern Ireland has not met since ministers left their posts, a lobbyist said.

The expert consultative group was established to develop a negotiating position for forthcoming talks but has not met since before the Stormont election at the start of this month amid the collapse of political leadership.

Beauty spots like Lough Foyle and Carlingford Lough straddle the border between Northern Ireland and the Republic and their sustainable management faces particular challenges on the UK’s frontier with an EU state.

Northern Ireland Environment Link chairman Patrick Casement said: “It is very difficult to make much progress.

“We talk to the civil servants in Northern Ireland and we do talk to them on a constant basis but with a lack of political leadership an awful lot of things have come to a halt.”

Lough Foyle marks the boundary between counties Londonderry and Donegal in the north west and Carlingford Lough separates counties Down and Louth.

The Loughs Agency protects fisheries and marine resources in the area.

It was established as one of the cross-border bodies under the 1998 Good Friday Agreement and witnesses before a Northern Ireland Affairs Committee meeting at Westminster said it could be affected by Brexit.

After the exit its area of responsibility will include the UK’s border with the EU and a regulatory deal will need to be agreed.

Mr Casement’s Environment Link promotes the importance of environmental issues.

He sits on a Brexit consultative committee linked to the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs.

Mr Casement said it met until the day environment minister Michelle McIlveen had to leave her post amid the collapse of powersharing.

He added: “She asked for it to go on meeting. The two meetings that were scheduled were both cancelled so there has been no further discussion about the issue.

“We are left with virtually nowhere to turn other than to come here to Westminster to discuss it with you.”