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Stormont cuts a severe threat to our environment

RSPB NI believes that nature in Northern Ireland is under threat from Stormont's recently proposed budget cuts.

The proposed allocations demonstrate that the Government does not see the natural environment - and the essential services it provides - as a priority. Disproportionate cuts to the Department of the Environment (DoE) budget (11.1% of its spend) mean that many "front line" services and projects which protect and enhance the places and wildlife that people hold dear will be lost.

We all rely on a good quality environment to provide many things that are essential to the economy and to our physical and mental well-being - clean water, the air we breathe, flood protection and access to green spaces to name but a few.

A short-sighted approach to funding the natural environment will mean that many of these benefits will be lost, perhaps forever. Furthermore, Northern Ireland could leave itself open to large fines if it can no longer effectively meet relevant EU obligations and directives.

We often hear people say that the economy is the priority, but do not recognise that the environment is integral to the economy.

While the situation is perilous, we believe that there are potential solutions, which we have outlined on our website (rspb.org.uk/nireland).

The draft budget consultations remain open until December 29 this year and we are urging anyone who cares about nature to make their voice heard by sending a short response to the DoE, telling them of your concerns and the potential solutions.

JOANNE SHERWOOD

Director, RSPB Northern Ireland

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