Environmental Plans, Principles and Governance for Northern Ireland

10th December 2020


DAERA Minister, Edwin Poots, today published a discussion document highlighting three specific elements of the UK Government’s Environment Bill, currently making its way through Parliament.

The Department of Agriculture, Environment & Rural Affairs (DAERA) is seeking views on a number of environmental governance issues that arise due to UK withdrawal from the EU.

The discussion document seeks the views of a wide range of stakeholders on:

1. Environmental Improvement Plans, which would require DAERA to produce long-term strategic plans for the environment;

2. A policy statement on the application of environmental principles, currently contained in EU treaties, by all Departments when making policy; and

3. Arrangements for independent environmental oversight, a role currently undertaken by the European Commission. The Office for Environmental Protection (OEP) will be established under the Environment Bill and (subject to the Assembly’s approval) extend to Northern Ireland.


The Environment Bill was introduced to Parliament on 30 January 2020. The Bill contains provisions for a range of Northern Ireland devolved matters. The Assembly granted legislative consent for Westminster to extend the provisions of the Environment Bill to Northern Ireland on 30 June 2020. Royal Assent is expected to be granted in spring 2021.

Given that decisions on future environmental plans, principles and governance arrangements for Northern Ireland will be a matter for the local administration this is your opportunity to provide views on how these functions are addressed in the post-Brexit era. Your comments and suggestions will allow Northern Ireland Ministers to make decisions as to which sections (if any) will be commenced and when.

If you do not feel these are the most appropriate mechanisms or organisational structures for good environmental governance, then DAERA welcome your comments and opinions on alternatives.

The discussion document will remain open for comment until 5 February 2021 and can be accessed at:  https://www.daera-ni.gov.uk/consultations/environmental-plans-principles-and-governance