Northern Ireland

Environmental Justice Network Ireland founded in Belfast

Launch of Environmental Justice Network Ireland
Image caption The Environmental Justice Network Ireland was announced in Belfast on Tuesday night

A network has been established to share expertise in environmental cases, many of which end up in court.

The Environmental Justice Network Ireland was formally launched in Belfast on Tuesday night.

It will bring together community activists, researchers, lawyers and planners with an interest in the area.

Organisers said it was particularly important given the absence of devolved government and the policy vacuum that had developed as a result.

They said there was also a greater recognition of the cross-Irish border nature of many environmental challenges.

Dr Ciara Brennan, an academic from Newcastle University who helped found the network, said she hoped it would become a rallying point for people who wanted to protect the environment.

She said she hoped the outcome would be "an enhanced quality of environmental justice on the island of Ireland".

Image caption The network brings together people who have an interest in the environment

The risk Brexit posed to environmental protection was also cited at the gathering.

It will mean campaigners will no longer have recourse to EU courts and the threat of big fines to make member states fulfil their environmental obligations.

Representatives of groups opposed to a number of controversial developments attended.

They included some people who are against a proposed goldmine near Greencastle in County Tyrone.

A conservationist who went to court in an attempt to divert the route of the A6 close to a protected wetland near Toomebridge in County Antrim was also present.

Northern Ireland's top auditor, the comptroller and auditor general Kieran Donnelly, also attended the event.

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