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MLA turns up the heat in call for a review of Stormont’s £90k energy bill


Gerry Carroll of People Before Profit

Gerry Carroll of People Before Profit

Gerry Carroll of People Before Profit

Stormont politicians may often be accused of spouting hot air but the true cost of heating parliament buildings has been revealed at nearly £90,000 a year.

A question to the Assembly Commission by People Before Profit MLA Gerry Carroll asked for a monthly breakdown of the cost of Stormont's heating bill.

The annual cost for 2020/21 was £86,557 with the highest monthly bill in February this year at no less than £13,117.

This is an increased annual cost for taxpayers compared to 2019/20 (£85,277) and 2018/19 (£84,811) but lower than 2017/18 (£91,067).

The Assembly Commission said the vast majority of the cost of heating parliament buildings relates to gas usage.

Gas is also used to provide warm water for catering outlets and hand washing, but the cost of this can’t be separated from that used to heat the building.

There are also a number of electric heaters throughout the building for supplementary heating, but the metering system doesn’t provide a breakdown of the cost for these heaters.

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Responding to the figures, Mr Carroll called for greater scrutiny of energy efficiency.

"It goes without saying that public buildings have to be heated for those who work in and use them," he said.

"But at a time when households are being careful about reducing their use of oil and gas for financial and environmental reasons, the least we can ask is for Parliament buildings to do the same. I would urge for a review of how Stormont is fully heated and when."

He continued: "With its commitment to action on Climate Change Stormont should be leading the way in energy efficiency and waste. I hope the commission can relook at how public money is spent to ensure both issues are being addressed."

The latest figures follow the introduction of Environment Minister Edwin Poots’ Climate Change Bill to the Assembly on Tuesday.

It proposes cutting Northern Ireland’s carbon emissions by at least 82% by 2050, lower than a net zero target set in a rival climate bill from the Green Party leader Clare Bailey.

Speaking about the latest development, Mr Poots said that developing technology could allow them to hit the target even sooner.

“The Bill I’ve presented to the Assembly is based in science, evidence, has sought the views of stakeholders and is costed out properly. It takes a common sense and realistic approach to what is an extremely complex issue that can only be addressed successfully by bringing those who can make the change, along with us."

The Minister also met with Green MLAs Ms Bailey and Rachel Woods and said he was hopeful they could work together.

“Both Clare and I are striving for the same ultimate outcome. I believe my Bill gives us the best chance of making the necessary changes to tackle climate change head on. We must balance the need to produce food and feed our people, with the need to protect our planet — one cannot exist without the other.”

The Assembly Commission has been contacted for comment.

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