Green groups hail progress in agency bid

Environmentalists in Northern Ireland are upbeat after meeting environment minister Angela Smith to urge the creation of an environmental protection agency.

Northern Ireland is the only part of the British Isles not to have an independent environmental regulator. Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) Northern Ireland director Aidan Lonergan described Smith as "receptive and engaged".

The coalition of nine environmental groups includes Friends of the Earth (FoE), the RSPB, the Ulster Wildlife Trust and the National Trust. FoE Northern Ireland director John Woods said: "Northern Ireland desperately needs to modernise its system of environmental protection and the best way to achieve this is to transfer responsibility to a body that is at arm's length from government."

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