Belfast Telegraph

Going green can save Northern Ireland millions of pounds each year, says charity

By Linda Stewart

Northern Ireland could be millions of pounds better off if our schools, hospitals, businesses and homes became greener, Keep NI Beautiful says.

As the green charity - formerly known as Tidy NI - celebrated its 60th birthday at Stormont today, it warned that we could potentially be losing £7m a year in tourism spend, simply due to the amount of litter discarded on our streets and beaches.

One tour agency even had a visit cancelled because of litter in local rivers, losing the economy £2,500 every year, it said.

Chief executive Ian Humphreys said every year ratepayers are hit with a £40million bill for street cleaning, while schools could save over £3m a year by switching off unused equipment.

"The pressure on the economy, the pressure on people's pockets and the pressure on the environment make it essential for everyone to take responsibility for creating a cleaner, healthier and more prosperous Northern Ireland," Mr Humphreys said.

"If we want to attract tourism revenue and inward investment to Northern Ireland, we have to achieve and maintain an environment that is fit for purpose, healthy and attractive. The cost of not doing so is incalculable." 

Northern Ireland is racking up major bills which could be saved by being greener - such as £1.1m which schools could save by recycling and a £69m vandalism bill.

Holy Trinity School in Cookstown cut its annual electricity bill in a year by switching off equipment that wasn't in use.

"On top of this, assuming a 'worst case' scenario based on internationally recognised figures, there is a potential loss of £7m in tourism spend related to the presence of litter on our streets and beaches," Mr Humphreys said.

"For example, in one case brought to our attention, a tour agency had a visit cancelled because of the amount of litter on local rivers - losing the operator, and our economy, £2,500 in overnight stays and fishing fees that year and every year thereafter. It's a salutary lesson.

"Cork University Hospital has reduced landfill waste by 22% and made savings of £120,000 and nearly £77,000 respectively on waste disposal and energy. At a time of staff cuts, longer waiting lists and bed shortages, we in Northern Ireland cannot afford to ignore opportunities to save money and resources which are easy to implement," he added.

Factfile

£1.1m - what schools could save every year by recycling.

£1.2m - the potential fuel saving for parents who do school runs.

£250 - the average household saving achievable by implementing simple energy saving measures.

£69m - the bill for vandalism.

£38m - the bill for graffiti.

£6,000 - what one NI school saved by switching off equipment not in use.

£39 - what drying clothes naturally can save per year.

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