Newly appointed Minister Andrew Muir has said he is committed to delivering across the full remit of his Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA) for the good of everyone in Northern Ireland.
Speaking during his first week in office, Minister Muir said: “DAERA has an extensive and diverse portfolio, which impacts upon us all, including responsibility for protecting and improving our natural environment; farming and food production; animal and plant health; fishing and forest regeneration. It also plays a crucial role in supporting our rural communities.
“I plan to focus on the full remit of the department, seeking to implement policies and strategies that benefit our climate and environment, while supporting our economically and socially significant agriculture, food and fisheries sectors alongside our important rural communities. I intend to listen to, engage and strive to work with stakeholders and partners in every part of Northern Ireland including North / South and East and West. Together, we can achieve a lot.”
Speaking of his appointment, Minister Muir said his new role presented some challenges but also many opportunities. Minister Muir said: “My immediate focus will be on working across government and with other partners to find appropriate responses to the immediate environmental and agricultural challenges we face.
“The situation we witnessed on Lough Neagh last summer is both a manifestation of those challenges and a reminder that we need to urgently deliver change. Whilst I am fully committed to protecting our environment and working across government, partner organisations and stakeholders to ensure our waterways are healthy for biodiversity, the public and for animals, it is clear that it will take many years, if not decades for the lough to improve and recover, there are no quick fixes here.
“We need to keep our focus on the longer term, ensuring that the Executive adopts policies and programmes needed to deliver the challenging targets for reducing carbon emissions that the law now requires. It is important that we all recognise climate change as a priority when allocating budgets.”
Minister Muir continued: “I also want to reassure our farming and fishing communities of my commitment to working with them as they take the steps needed to reduce their carbon footprint and supporting them to enhance the natural and marine environment that I know they care so deeply about. I passionately believe that, working in partnership, we can deliver real improvement while also promoting economic resilience, financial sustainability and a responsive supply chain. This sector is of paramount importance to our economy, food security and of course, will be critical in helping us to achieve our environmental obligations.
“There are so many other challenges that I know I will need to address, not least the devastating impact of bovine TB on our farms and economy.
“It is a privilege to take on this responsibility and I look forward to working with partners and stakeholders as well as the wider community as we together join in the goal of safeguarding our environment, addressing climate change and ensuring our economy can grow sustainably.”
Notes to editors:
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