Hogan’s decision to axe Sustainable Development Council strange and mistaken

Ian Carey News, Press Releases

Environmental Pillar criticises the abolition of Comhar, the National Sustianable Development Council. 

The Environmental Pillar of Social Partnership has expressed disappointment and concern at yesterday’s decision by the minister for the Environment Phil Hogan to abolish Comhar (the National Sustainable Development Council).

Commenting on behalf of the Environmental Pillar, Pat Finnegan of Grian, a member of Comhar council said: “This is a strange decision, claiming to be aimed at saving money while also enhancing Ireland’s performance on sustainable development. The money is said to amount to €300,000 per year. That’s the cost of roughly 100 metres of new national road. Common sense would be for government to not build another 100m of scarcely-needed road, and keep the only formal national watchdog on sustainable development in business.”

Minister Hogan’s intention is to place the responsibilities of Comhar elsewhere.

“Asking another body with very little environmental expertise and experience to do the barking instead of Comhar is essentially a downgrade for Ireland’s concern for sustainable development.”  Mr Finnegan concluded.

The decision was announced to a regular meeting of the Council yesterday by the Secretary General of the Department of Environment.  No prior consultation with any council members took place.

Commenting on this on behalf of the Environmental Pillar, Molly Walsh of Friends of the Earth, also a Comhar council member, said,

“Yesterday’s announcement of the axing of Comhar is mistaken. This so called integration is being done without proper forethought or consultation. The decision is itself ignoring one of the fundamental principles of sustainable development – stakeholder consultation.”

Minister Hogan told the Tyndall climate science conference yesterday that “our future must be built around a society that is more sustainable in both economic and environmental terms.” At exactly the same time his Secretary General was across town killing off the Sustainable Development Council. The minister went on to say scientific research would be essential to the sustainability effort, having just axed a body one of whose roles is to turn research findings into policy advice to Government.

Molly Walsh of Friends of the Earth concluded,

“Abolishing the National Sustainable Development Council as a cost saving measure is a false economy. As the minister himself said, sustainable development must be at the heart of our economic recovery. We ignore sustainable development at our peril.”

Ian CareyHogan’s decision to axe Sustainable Development Council strange and mistaken