A large crowd stands outside Stormont with big letters saying "Net Zero Now"

Friends of the Earth Northern Ireland

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. The planning system leans heavily towards new development. And communities don't have enough say. 

We're going to change this.

photo of Belfast, Northern Ireland, from Black Mountain

People power in Northern Ireland

People power played a vital role in securing climate change legislation for Northern Ireland in 2022. Ordinary people stepped in to write the legislation when the minister responsible refused, and they forced Northern Ireland to stop being a climate laggard. 

Watch our new film about what happened behind the scenes in the race to get a Climate Act. 

A large crowd stands outside Stormont with big letters saying "Net Zero Now"

Success at Larne Lough

We supported No Gas Caverns, a community group fighting to defend Larne Lough from plans to dig out 7 huge chambers under the sea, resulting in a super salty "dead-zone" where nothing could live, in a marine protected area near Islandmagee.

In June 2024, 5 years of tireless work by community campaigners was awarded when the the Court of Appeal in Belfast ruled in our favour and put a stop to this nature-wrecking project. 

A group of people on a beach with No Gas Cavern signs

Get involved and take action

Come and join us and your local community at events, from workshops and talks to film showings and protests.

You can also take action by signing petitions asking for action in local communities across Northern Ireland.

A crowd of people smiling, one sitting on a tractor.

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Helping young people become campaigners

People Planet Place supports marginalised young people from across Northern Ireland to develop the skills, confidence and relationships needed to tackle the climate and nature crises.

If you're aged 16 to 25, live in Northern Ireland and want to learn community campaigning skills, join us!

Student holding a placard saying This isn't what we meant by hot girl summer.

Find a group in your community

Find out where your nearest local action group in Northern Ireland is, and get in touch.

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.

A woman visiting one of our local group stalls during the Big Ask campaign calling for a UK climate change law

Environmental facts about Northern Ireland

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

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.

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.

Watch PIG Business to see the impact of factory pig farming.

We welcome the investigation into guidance on ammonia emissions from farms by the Office for Environmental Protection.

A farmer in a field of crops and piglets

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. Support them by adding your name to our petition.


Aerial photo of Cavanacaw gold mine, Co. Tyrone, Northern Ireland

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.

photo of Stormont, home of the Northern Ireland Assembly

Planning for People and Place

Planning can be confusing and intimidating. If only there were somewhere you could go to learn how the planning system works. There is. Planning for People and Place.

Friends of the Earth Northern Ireland runs workshops and training on all aspects of the planning system. We cut through the jargon and give you the tools you need to defend the places you love from unwanted development. Experts in law and planning are on hand to answer your questions and offer advice.

Come along to the workshops and learn the skills you need to protect your environment.

Birds fly above Lough Neagh as the sun sets, casting an orange sky
Northern Ireland office location screenshot from Google Maps

Our team

Friends of the the Earth Northern Ireland is led by Director James Orr, and supported by:

Click on the names above to email each individual, or use the central office contact details below. 

Friends of the Earth Northern Ireland, Gordon House, 22-24 Lombard Street, Belfast BT1 1RD

028 9023 3488

[email protected]

Northern Ireland office location screenshot from Google Maps

Latest on Northern Ireland