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Conservationists voice concern over habitat protection in NI

Words: Roger Milne

The protection of Northern Ireland's wildlife and key habitats could be at risk when the UK leaves the European Union (EU), warns a leading environmental group.

The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds NI (RSPB NI) said it was concerned that quitting the EU would lead to fewer safeguards for natural habitats.

Joanne Sherwood, RSPB Northern Ireland director, said: “We are concerned that protecting and enhancing our beautiful environment will not be a high priority in future [exit] discussions.

“The challenges for the NI environment, such as biodiversity loss, climate change and poor water quality, remain the same now as before the UK voted to leave the EU.”

She added: “Whatever environmental legislation and arrangements to protect the environment are put in place, it is crucial that they are at least as strong as in the rest of Europe. This is essential if we are to safeguard our iconic species and habitats, from razorbills on Rathlin Island to the lakelands of Fermanagh.”

She urged the administration to ensure that the countryside would continue to be protected from development and further intensification.

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