Environmental Justice In Northern Ireland Law7008

3459 words - 14 pages

Critically evaluate environmental justice in Northern Ireland and assess its effectiveness in ensuring protection of the environment.

Introduction
Environmental justice arguably is a relatively novel term to the vocabulary of local government in Northern Ireland. A political history encompassing thirty years of The Troubles and a consequent period of Direct Rule[footnoteRef:1] resulted in a political focus centred on peace-making and economic progression rather than a common consensus on an environmental agenda. Devolution coincided with revelations of the weaknesses in environmental regulation through damning reports from the Northern Ireland Audit Office which highlighted the failures of the DOE in implementing its regulatory responsibilities[footnoteRef:2]. Although Directive transposition has largely been caught up on, the fast pace of policy making has left the government immersed in a statutory maze with environmental regulation being delivered from the government executive agency; Northern Ireland Environment Agency (NIEA). Despite the naive allusion that Northern Ireland has successfully transposed EU Environmental Directives into local environmental policy, and that these policies are being delivered effectively on the ground contrasts the fact that NIEA fines and penalties for environmental compliance disputes have decreased over the past four years whilst the level of environmental crime has risen. This signals concern in the environmental regulation and enforcement structures operating within Northern Ireland and questions the premise of the environmental justice agenda in practice, that everyone should have the right to, and be able to live in a clean and healthy environment[footnoteRef:3].Social inequalities have been limited in their link to environmental issues in Northern Ireland, which in turn has prohibited the full scope of environmental justice to be appreciated[footnoteRef:4]. As a post-conflict society which continues to focus on economic regeneration, UNEP have emphasised the justice implications for decisions on Environmental Governance in Northern Ireland[footnoteRef:5], as such questions are becoming more pronounced in the international debate. It is evident that to secure a common sense of effective environmental justice in Northern Ireland more needs to be done. Moreover, this movement cannot only involve government interests but requires incorporation of the public to be deserved of the title environmental justice. [1: In 1972 Westminster suspended the Northern Ireland Parliament and imposed direct rule from Westminster. A second suspension was imposed from 2002-2007. See: ] [2: Northern Ireland Assembly, Public Accounts Committee, Measuring the Performance of NI Water and Procurement and Governance in NI Water (2011) NIA 40/10/11R Public Accounts Committee and Northern Ireland Audit Office (NIAO), Areas of Special Scientific Interest, HC (2003) highlight the failures...

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