The Programme for a Partnership Government provides that environmental considerations should be integrated into the key areas identified in the EC 5th Environment Action Programme: industry, transport, energy, tourism and agriculture. In this context, the Taoiseach has recently requested that I should agree an agenda with other Ministers concerned and report to Government later this year.
I do not consider that, at this stage, an interdepartmental Task Force would be the best means of carrying forward this important work, nor was this recommended by the Green 2000 Advisory Committee report. A number of inter-departmental groups are already constituted in relation to environmental matters, including committees dealing with climate change and cleaner energy. My Department has also recently finalised arrangements, in co-operation with the ESRI, for the establishment of an Environmental Policy Research Centre which will have the capacity to address environmental questions on a horizontal basis.
The environmental dimension will, as required by the draft Framework Regulation on the Structural Funds, be integral to the forthcoming National Development Plan. My Department is closely involved with the Department of Finance and other Departments concerned in this connection.