Green Party NI calls for adaptations to tackle ‘extreme’ weather
Following the worst coastal storms and tidal surges in many years, the Green Party in Northern Ireland is urging the Executive to develop local climate change mitigation and adaptation strategies to help future-proof at-risk communities and assist in their efforts to adapt to changing climate and increasingly frequent extreme weather events.
In the Assembly today, Green MLA Steven Agnew warned that Northern Ireland needs to be better prepared for extreme weather conditions rather than just reacting to disaster every time it happens.
“The severe storms and exceptionally high tide surges of recent days show that we need to plan for the future to be properly prepared,” Mr Agnew said.
“The sad reality is that we are going to be facing this sort of extreme weather more frequently.
“Climate change is a reality and damaging weather and flooding locally are the consequences of it.
“Simply denying climate change is happening is not going to stop peoples’ lives and homes being destroyed.
“We need to look at the long-term strategies to deal with the increasing extreme weather we will be getting more frequently in Northern Ireland as a consequence of climate change.
“Our water and drainage systems have been neglected for decades and can no longer cope when any pressure is put on them.
“Our budgetary priorities are wrong as we continue to set aside money for new road building projects when we should be investing that money into the infrastructure that we already have and ensuring basic things like our systems of drainage are cleaned more regularly and flood defences are built.
“But even that is just tinkering at the edges because we need a complete upgrade of our water and sewerage system.
“Our infrastructure needs to be ‘climate change-proofed’ and that means Executive investment in our tidal defences and water and sewerage systems so they are fit for purpose.
“In the longer term, we need to make sure our housing and planning polices take climate issues into account so there is no further building on flood plains or more deforestation.
“Lack of acknowledgement of climate change and the extreme weather that it brings – something that the rest of the world has accepted – means the Executive has let the people of Northern Ireland down.
“It needs to get proactive to avoid this misery rather reactive when the damage is already done.
“We need to plan for the future and take a sustainable approach to improving and developing our infrastructure to meet the changing demands of a changing climate.
“Sand, whether in bags or for people to bury their heads in, is not going to be adequate to stop the risings tides and increased flooding.”