Green project 'could create jobs'
Refitting thousands of homes to save energy would create more than 2,300 jobs in Northern Ireland, a lobby group has claimed.
The Green New Deal campaign wants the Government to provide £72 million over a three-year period to slash fuel bills and carbon emissions.
Ministers are considering how to deal with some of the deepest public spending cuts in recent years.
Utility Regulator Iain Osborne, chairman of the pressure group, said: "We are fully aware of the funding constraints currently affecting government, however we believe they must react and take leadership in order to help businesses recover from the recession, enable consumers to reduce their energy bills and save money, while also reducing carbon emissions and energy usage."
Household energy consumption accounts for over a third of energy used in Northern Ireland with carbon emissions at a similar proportion.
Mr Osborne added: "As a society, we must begin to reduce these levels and our reliance on fossil fuels, and the most cost-effective way of doing this is through our proposed housing fund."
The group believes a £253 million investment scheme combining Executive funding with borrowing from the European Investment Bank and commercial or social finance institutions would create over 2,300 jobs and fit out 100,000 homes over a three-year period.
It said 50,000 households in fuel poverty would benefit and average carbon emissions for homes would fall by over a fifth.
The group includes Nigel Smyth, director of the CBI in Northern Ireland.
"The outlook for the building and construction sector is very challenging," he said.