Cllr Mal O’Hara has commented on the publication of the Northern Ireland environmental statistics report, which reveals that Northern Ireland’s shamefully poor record on environmental protection continues.

The Green Party NI Deputy Leader said: “This report has shown that our total greenhouse gas emissions accounted for 5 per cent of the UK total, higher than our population share of 3 per cent. It also shows the urgent need for an Independent Environmental Protection Agency, and for the implementation of the recently passed net-zero Climate Change Act as a start.

Northern Ireland is already the twelfth worst region in the world for biodiversity loss, and these figures indicate that the situation is not improving. Only 55% of features in our protected areas were in a ‘favourable’ condition. 36% of our legally protected land and water sites were in an unfavourable condition in 2021/2022, our bird populations have been in decline since 2005, just over half of our inshore coastal areas were deemed to be in a ‘good’ or ‘better’ ecological state and recycling rates are down (from 51.9% in 2019/20 to 50/9% in 2021/22).

“The policies of the last Executives, have failed. We have no Air Quality Strategy, no Waste Strategy, no Ammonia Strategy and an unambitious Environment Strategy.

Urgent action must be taken to protect our environment and tackle climate and biodiversity breakdown.”