ULSTER Unionist MLA Rosemary Barton has said that the climate change private member’s Bill requires further work in legislative and policy terms.
Mrs Barton said: “Last week the Assembly Agriculture, Environment & Rural Affairs (AERA) Committee received a research paper on the private member’s Climate Change Bill that has highlighted that the proposals have not even been subject to a form of impact assessment or a rural proofing scoping or exercise, given the potential impacts on rural communities and livelihoods.
“We had been aware that the Bill hadn’t undergone any consultation process, now we learn that it didn’t even have a very basic rural proofing assessment.
“This, tailored with the lack of an economic analysis of the impact of the Bill, in my view renders the plans incomplete.
“Given there has been so little preparation work for the Bill it is now vital that the AERA Committee at Stormont fill these gaps and carry out as wide a consultation process as possible to capture as many views as possible.
“The Rural Needs Act 2016 states: ‘A public authority must have due regard to rural needs when – (a) developing, adopting, implementing or revising policies, strategies and plans.’
“As there is such a responsibility on a public authority when creating new policies, the same should apply to a private member’s Bill that is enforcing government departments to make significant changes to plans and policies.
“This should include a full economic appraisal of the proposals to establish a complete financial impact that the Bill would have on Northern Ireland and its people.
“Following my decision to vote against the second reading of the Bill I have now raised these matters at committee, both the rural proofing and economic analysis.”
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