Northern Ireland is a region of sharp contrasts. Although it was the first part of the modern United Kingdom to experience devolution, it has been governed by direct rule from Westminster for much of the last thirty years. Equally, it is famed for its beautiful landscapes and environmental quality, yet sharp criticisms have been made of the levels of environmental governance delivered within the province.
At the time of writing Northern Ireland’s political parties have recently concluded the St Andrews Agreement, which could lead to the restoration of devolved government. Additionally environmental groups within the province have formed an ‘Environmental Protection Coalition’ to campaign for better environmental regulation. Whether the immediate future holds a continuation of direct rule or a return to devolved government, it is to be hoped that this future will deliver a more robust system of environmental protection.