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NIEA: Farmers’ Concerns

Oral Answers to Questions — Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs – in the Northern Ireland Assembly at 3:15 pm on 3rd October 2016.

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Photo of Steve Aiken Steve Aiken UUP 3:15 pm, 3rd October 2016

T7. Mr Aiken asked the Minister of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs whether she is aware of any concerns that have been raised by farmers’ groups or the Ulster Farmers’ Union about the current practice and procedures of the Northern Ireland Environment Agency. (AQT 272/16-21)

Photo of Michelle McIlveen Michelle McIlveen DUP

I thank the Member for his question. Obviously, there are ongoing discussions with regard to the Northern Ireland Environment Agency (NIEA) and farmers. You will be aware that the Ulster Farmers' Union and NIEA are looking to reach a memorandum of understanding (MOU).

Hopefully, we will work towards that and there will be a positive outcome for everyone. I am not sure whether the Member has a particular issue or example in relation to that, but I am happy to discuss it with him.

Photo of Steve Aiken Steve Aiken UUP

Thank you very much, Minister. I am delighted that an MOU will be signed. However, I am having some difficulties in South Antrim and wish to facilitate a meeting with the CEO of the Northern Ireland Environment Agency. I understand that there are some issues with the visit being cleared through your office. I would appreciate it if that meeting could be facilitated as quickly as possible.

Photo of Michelle McIlveen Michelle McIlveen DUP

I thank the Member for his question. I am content to facilitate any meeting, but he and the House need to recognise that much of what NIEA does and what it implements is on the basis of European directives. We need to be clear on that and the flexibility around it.

Photo of Robin Newton Robin Newton Speaker

Question 8 has been withdrawn.