The deadline for responses to a discussion paper on Northern Ireland’s first ever Environment Strategy has been pushed back to 5 February 2020.
With ramifications for the Northern Irish waste sector, the proposed strategy would explore achieving zero waste and moving to a circular economy.
Having already received more than 800 responses so far, the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA) says it decided to push the deadline back to allow for as many people as possible to have the chance to give their views.
In a statement on the DAERA website, Dave Foster, director of regulatory and natural resources policy, said: “Detailed responses are coming in on a daily basis, so given the considerable level of interest we wanted to extend the public discussion period to ensure as many people as possible have the opportunity to take part.
“We have received responses from people of all ages and we know that young people in particular are telling us how strongly they feel about the environment.”
The original deadline for responses was 23 December 2019.
Published in September of this year, the discussion paper describes waste management and the development of a circular economy as among the country’s greatest environmental challenges.
To improve resource efficiency the paper suggests any proposed policy should include appropriate application of the waste hierarchy, focusing on the prevention of waste and only applying the next best alternatives in order of potential damage to the environment, with the most damaging, disposal, as a last resort.
Under normal circumstances, officials would have taken policy direction from a DAERA minister and the Northern Ireland Executive, the devolved government of Northern Ireland.
However, in the current absence of ministers with the Northern Irish assembly suspended since January 2017 as broad a view as possible is being sought on what a future Environment Strategy might seek to address.
This could inform any incoming minister.
DAERA will publish a summary of the findings before drafting the Environment Strategy for Northern Ireland in spring 2020.
Any proposed strategy will require endorsement from a future minister and executive.
Responses can be submitted here or by email to email@example.com.