RSPB NI is encouraging everyone to speak up for nature by giving their views on a new Environment and Nature Restoration Bill

Snipe. Photo credit Andy Hay (rspb-images.com)

Snipe. Photo credit Andy Hay (rspb-images.com)


Guest blog by Jane Clarke, RSPB NI Nature Protection Policy Officer

In September 2020, over 1,000 of you joined 79,000 members and supporters across the UK in petitioning the government to #ReviveOurWorld. The Northern Ireland Assembly heard your calls and as result, a Private Members Bill - the Environment and Nature Restoration Bill - has been launched. This Bill offers a huge opportunity to turn the tide on nature’s decline. You can continue to help by taking part in a consultation that will help shape it and we've outlined some steps (below) to guide you through the process.

It’s great to see nature restoration being made a priority at the Northern Ireland Assembly. Now we need you to give your views on the Environment and Nature Restoration Bill to make sure it contains vital targets in law to secure nature’s recovery and revive our world for present and future generations.

A Bill is the first step in a long Assembly process to create new legislation. From the outset, it’s crucial that all written components of a Bill are as considered and robust as possible, especially when it comes to nature. For the Environment and Nature Restoration Bill to deliver urgent action that will bring nature back from the brink, it must include:

  1. Time-bound and ambitious targets to restore nature
  2. Non-regression of existing environmental standards so that nature cannot decline further
  3. Robust environmental principles that will guide decision-makers and give laws shape and meaning
  4. Commitments to increase space for nature across Northern Ireland

There is now a huge opportunity for you to help make sure this happens!

Before this Bill progresses any further, the public can share their views via a consultation. We believe that if as many people as possible take action on the consultation and follow RSPB NI’s response (below), then we will be in a stronger position to give nature in Northern Ireland a fighting chance to recover and thrive.

Small tortoiseshell butterfly. Photo credit: Andrew Cooper, Butterfly Conservation

Small tortoiseshell butterfly. Photo credit: Andrew Cooper, Butterfly Conservation

How to respond to the public consultation

Click on this link and you will be taken to the public consultation page. Here you will be asked a series of questions on what you want the Bill to achieve for nature. To follow RSPB NI’s response, answer the questions as follows:

Questions 3 – 4
Answer YES so that we can secure stronger laws to protect nature.

Question 5
Answer YES to ensure that an independent Environmental Protection Agency is established to regulate and enforce breaches of environmental law by organisations and individuals.

Questions 6 – 11
Answer YES to demand that targets in law for natures recovery are created on the basis of independent scientific advice. Without this, government commitments to protect nature will continue to be undermined.

Question 12
Answer YES to ensure that government decision-making is guided by environmental principles that aim to better protect the environment.

Question 13
Answer NO so that we can turn the tide on the dual nature and climate crisis in Northern Ireland.

Question 14
Answer YES to ensure that the Department for Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA) commits to protecting environmental standards.

Question 15
Answer YES to bring about biodiversity gain (enrichment of the natural environment to a better state) through planning and development.

Question 16
Answer C to ensure public authorities and departments act in a manner that conserves and enhances nature and the environment.

Question 17
Answer YES to support the establishment and implementation of nature recovery networks across Northern Ireland.

Questions 18 – 19
There is no need to respond to these if you support the Bill.

Question 20
If you would like to leave an additional comment, this would be a great opportunity to share your support for our Green Recovery plan of solutions to revive our world.

Following the consultation, we hope to see the Bill progress through Stormont where MLAs and the Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (AERA) Committee will be able to debate and amend it. This process will take a number of months, but we will keep you updated on its development.

We hope as many people as possible continue to give their voice to nature and complete this important consultation. We depend on nature for our survival; let’s welcome and act on this chance to protect it.

European hedgehog_Ben Andrew (rspb-images.com)

European hedgehog. Photo credit: Ben Andrew (rspb-images.com)


Raising your voice for nature really makes a difference

Northern Ireland has lost more wildlife than anywhere else in the UK. This was evidenced by the Northern Ireland Executive’s failure to meet over 80% of its objectives to reverse nature’s decline between 2015 – 2020.

This devastating news of biodiversity loss served as a wake-up call to us all. To get nature’s recovery back on track, the #ReviveOurWorld campaign called for the urgent development of legally binding targets to save nature. By supporting the campaign and joining 79,000 voices across the UK, you empowered us to show the Northern Ireland Executive and wider Northern Ireland Assembly just how many people care about nature and want urgent action to protect and restore it.

The RSPB, as part of its #ReviveOurWorld campaign, is pushing for legally binding targets to restore nature by 2030 and for a green recovery from the pandemic. For more information visit rspb.org.uk/ReviveOurWorld

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