A couple of trees and a blue cloudy sky reflect in the waters of Lough Neagh

Friends of the Earth
Northern Ireland

A clean and safe future for Northern Ireland

A healthy environment, happy communities, and worthwhile jobs: this is our vision for Northern Ireland.

People should have shared access to nature. And our resources should be managed fairly.

We believe these things are critical if we're to build a peaceful society.

to help protect people and planet

Environmental facts about Northern Ireland

1.7million
tonnes of sand a year are unlawfully extracted from Lough Neagh
27%
of electricity used in Northern Ireland comes from renewables
24,000
jobs could be created by refurbishing thousands of homes in Northern Ireland
80%
of Northern Ireland's transport budget is spent on roads
90%
of protected sites are badly damaged by agricultural pollution

Northern Ireland's challenges

Northern Ireland's air, water and soils are in a bad way.

We have the least protected environment in the UK and Ireland. It's a real worry for the 1.8m people living here and the many important wildlife sites in the country.

Northern Ireland has no independent Environmental Protection Agency. No National Parks. No law to cut climate-changing emissions. The planning system leans heavily towards new development. And communities have too little say.

We're going to change this.

Nature and people first

We're working with people across the counties to protect the things we all care about: flourishing nature, clean air, real food, and healthy communities. Together we can get Northern Ireland:

  • an environmental protection agency that has the freedom to do its job properly
  • a Climate Change Act that cuts pollution and creates clean jobs
  • a planning system fit for people and nature
  • strong environmental laws.

Extractive industries in Northern Ireland

Northern Ireland has a problem with unlawful and poorly regulated mines and quarries – from basalt in the Antrim plateau, to limestone from Fermanagh, and sand from Lough Neagh. Now international corporations have come looking for gold, lead, and oil and gas, and our most precious places are at risk.

We’re working with frontline communities to protect their countryside from exploitation and pollution.

In April 2018 we held a series of events called 'Our Earth, our future: To mine or mind?' This included an international conference with speakers from Honduras, Romania, Galicia (Spain), Brussels, Tyrone and Mayo. See images from the conference on Facebook.

Lough Neagh: space to breathe

Lough Neagh is one of Northern Ireland’s most precious wildlife sites. It's supposed to be protected under international, European, and Northern Ireland law. Yet it's in a dire state – water quality is poor, and birds and fish are disappearing.

It's difficult to pinpoint all the causes. But one suspect stands out: unlawful sand dredging. Some companies are sucking out sand from the lough without planning permission or environmental assessment.

We won against the dredging in the courts. But the government allows it to go on. We won't stop fighting. If we can’t save such a designated protected site, then nowhere is safe.

Find out why Lough Neagh needs space to breathe.

Northern Ireland and climate change

Climate change is happening now and it's destroying lives. The weather is getting wilder – crises like flooding in Northern Ireland will get worse.

Burning dirty fuels like coal, oil and gas is leading to more global warming. We need to shift quickly to clean energy from the wind, waves and sun. Northern Ireland needs a climate change law to make sure this happens.

We want renewable energy and proper insulation for tens of thousands of homes each year: creating jobs, cutting fuel bills and reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

Fossil Free Northern Ireland

Worldwide, 800 financial institutions have pulled money out of fossil fuel companies – heaping growing pressure on them to stop drilling for more coal, oil and gas.

We're campaigning to get the Northern Ireland pension fund to take its money out of fossil fuels too. The fund has almost £350m in companies like Shell and BP.

Please write to your councillor today to ask them to support the campaign to get the Northern Ireland Pension Fund to go fossil-free.

And if you want to get more involved, see our campaign page on Facebook.

Where are the environmental safeguards?

Northern Ireland is bad at protecting its environment. Companies are more or less free to damage our air, water and soil. We're sacrificing our health and livelihoods, including tourism.

Brexit only raises the stakes. Without strong environmental laws, the border with the Republic of Ireland could become a dumping ground for polluting industries after we leave the EU.

We need an independent Environmental Protection Agency – and an environmental court with the freedom and expertise to challenge bad decisions.

Real food, real farming, real future

Northern Ireland needs a farming system that is good for farmers, produces healthy food, and protects the environment.

Instead we have farmers at breaking point, industrial pig factories, and polluted rivers.

Look behind the stereotypical green image of our country and you’ll find something much less wholesome. This is Northern Ireland’s dirty secret – rivers and lakes choking, fragile habitats polluted, and plummeting air quality.

Find a group in your community

Find out what your nearest group in Northern Ireland is working on.

If there isn't one, consider starting a new one.

And if you're already part of a social justice or environmental community group, join forces with us.

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