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SDC Commissioners meet with Northern Ireland Ministers

25 September 2007

Jonathan Porritt, Chairman of the Sustainable Development Commission (SDC), and his Commissioners met with five Government Ministers when they attended their annual Plenary in Northern Ireland on 12th and 13th September.

The Commission discussed topical issues relevant to Northern Ireland with a large number of invited guests from across the political spectrum, government departments and senior Civil Servants. They debated themes such as climate change and energy, infrastructure, housing, engagement and communications and the economy in a bid to share their expertise with the main decision makers within Government.

Jonathan Porritt stated: “These engagement sessions are a vital part of progressing the SDC’s business agenda and are an invaluable part of our visit to Belfast. The Commissioners particularly enjoyed the opportunity to engage with the new devolved administration in a bid to understand the specific complexities of the Northern Ireland situation.”

However he continued: “It’s time for the people of Northern Ireland, as in the rest of the UK and Ireland, to address the threat of climate change. They need their political leaders to recognise the reality of its impacts and search for practical solutions which will be of benefit to the people of the province today and in the future.”

SDC Commissioners meeting with NI ministers

In between a series of engagement sessions with Ministers and senior officials, the Commission took time out to visit sustainable initiatives in North Down and in Belfast. The Commissioners were greatly impressed by North Down Borough Council’s Enclosed Waste Transfer Station and Recycling and Environmental Education Centre at Balloo in Bangor. Northern Ireland Commissioner, John Gilliland stated: "It's an outstanding example of a local authority initiative in building sustainability criteria into an infrastructure project, and we particularly welcome the use of renewable energy to power the entire operation."

The Commissioners also visited Harland & Wolff where the Marine Current Turbine intended for Strangford Lough is being engineered. Scottish Commissioner Hugh Raven said: “It’s good to see the engineering tradition of Harland & Wolff put to use in the growing field of renewable energy technologies.”

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