Minister Mark H Durkan and Dungannon based agri-food companies, Linden Foods Ltd and Linergy Ltd, have signed the world’s first Prosperity Agreement.
The agreement will turn environment issues from barriers to business into economic growth opportunities.
The deal is that the Northern Ireland Environment Agency (NIEA), while firmly regulating, will work to reduce red tape. In turn the companies invest heavily in the environment. Linden Foods and Linergy are committing significant investment in the environment. In addition to many environmental benefits it will mean them reducing their carbon emissions by a staggering 25%.
The Environment Minister, speaking at Linden Food Headquarters in Dungannon said: "Last year, I outlined my vision for the environment agenda in Northern Ireland: ‘A Better Environment – A Stronger Economy’. My message was clear, long-term economic prosperity and well-being is only possible through the responsible management of the environment."
"I believe the biggest impact will come from the main users of our natural resources, the business community. We need to help businesses to identify opportunities for growth that reduces reliance on finite resources, reuse and reduce waste and to rethink products."
"I told my Northern Ireland Environment Agency (NIEA) to regulate firmly but also to be more supportive of progressive businesses which have a good compliance record. This first Prosperity Agreement is a great example, helping these progressive and compliant companies in our critical agri-food sector to reduce environmental impact in ways that boost their competitiveness in their markets."
"There is no shortage of talk about sustainability. There is, however, a shortage of real action. This Prosperity Agreement shows Northern Ireland is different. My environment agency has sat down with two companies and the parties have agreed real actions to bring environment and economic objectives together."
"Under this agreement, NIEA will redirect resources from bureaucratic processes that create no value to actions that support Linden Foods and Linergy improve their environmental performance in their own operations and throughout their supply-chain. I applaud both Linden and Linergy for their vision and real desire to be at the forefront of progressive sustainable business here."
Commenting on the significance of the agreement, Richard Moore Managing Director Linergy, said: "I am excited and reassured by the implementation and signing of the Prosperity Agreement. Joining forces and resources between Linergy and the NIEA paves a new way for us to do business. Together we can identify areas where improvements are possible and agree how to action them, ensuring that we minimise our impact on the environment and lead the way in our industry. If the business is not sustainable it is not viable and therefore this Agreement reinforces the need for compliance, efficiency and ultimately a way to challenge the business."
"Linergy has been proud to lead the industry in many regards since first opened in 2005. We are pleased to be part of the world’s first ‘Prosperity Agreement’, this is a clear demonstration of our commitment to the environment and our desire to continue implementing processes, techniques and technologies which enhance the sustainability of the Agri-food sector and NI plc. Partnership with the NIEA will allow us to have a first-hand role in the evolving relationship between business and the Regulator, a step which will lead to improved environmental outcomes and improved economic performance."
Gerry Maguire Managing Director, Linden Foods said: "Today Linden Foods have taken another huge environmental step forward. The formalisation of a partnership approach with the NIEA reinforces our plan to work diligently to reduce our impact across the business in alignment with our sustainability agenda. The agreement affirms our overall commitment and long-term vision and allows us to grow and educate, adapting new ways to contribute to a more prosperous and healthier way of doing business. We continue to invest time and effort so to ensure that we are a market leader and a responsible business."
Every action in the Prosperity Agreement is voluntary and will improve both environmental outcomes and economic outcomes. Linergy and Linden Foods will continue to meet environmental standards and now also move beyond minimum standards. They have undertaken to:
- reduce their carbon emissions by a staggering 25%,
- reduce their energy and water use and reduce waste;
- working to influence the supply chain to improve both on farm sustainability and finished product logistics; and
- will create a local stakeholder forum where key issues can be discussed in a constructive manner.
Signing the Agreement, Minister Durkan said: "This Prosperity Agreement shows international markets that Northern Ireland is serious about creating a world-class clean, green agri-food sector. Other countries are showing interest in these Agreements. The government in Westminster has talked about red tape reduction since it was elected. It has produced lots of promises and reports. In DOE, we’re not talking about it, we’re getting on with it and doing it. I am confident that more of our companies will see that signing up to a Prosperity Agreement makes sound business sense."