Environmental Plans, Principles and Governance for Northern Ireland

Closed 26 Feb 2021

Opened 10 Dec 2020


The Environment Bill was introduced to the UK Parliament on 30 January 2020 and contains a range of environmental measures across a number of policy areas, measures that are important in supporting our efforts to transform our society to net zero carbon by 2050, protect and enhance our environment and sustainably grow our economy.

Until the end of the EU withdrawal transition period, certain governance arrangements are embedded within the EU treaties and institutions. There is a need to ensure that the arrangements in place after the transition period are similarly robust and fit for purpose. This discussion document focuses on the plans, principles and governance elements of the Environment Bill, which address these issues and, in addition, reinforce the need for a strategic approach to protect and enhance the environment in Northern Ireland for decades to come.

This online survey contains an abridged version of the discussion document - if you wish to refer to the full version, it can be accessed at: Full Discussion Document 

Why we are consulting

The purpose of this consultation exercise is to highlight that oversight of, and accountability for, the environment will change after the end of the EU withdrawal transition period.  We are seeking your views on environmental plans, principles and governance.

The Environment Bill gives NI Ministers the option to:

  • extend the jurisdiction of an Office for Environmental Protection (OEP) to Northern Ireland;
  • embed environmental principles into policy decisions of NI Departments; and
  • prepare and publish environmental improvement plans.

The Assembly has agreed that consent for the UK Parliament to legislate in these devolved areas should be granted. 

However, if you do not feel these are the most appropriate mechanisms or organisational structures for good environmental governance then we welcome your comments and opinions on other options.  

Given that decisions on future environmental plans, principles and governance arrangements for Northern Ireland are devolved this is your opportunity to provide views on how these functions are addressed locally. Your comments and suggestions will inform Ministers’ decisions on implementation.

What happens next

The Department will consider all responses very closely and these will be used to inform future policy regarding environmental plans, principles and governance. A synopsis of responses will be prepared as soon as possible after the closing date and published on the Department's website.  


  • All stakeholders
  • Government Department
  • Local Government
  • Statutory Body
  • Private Sector
  • Research
  • Charity, Community and Voluntary
  • Utility
  • Press/media