Kerr's Corner

Kerr's Corner is a regular feature in East Antrim and Newtownabbey editions of The Wizard. David Kerr would like to hear your memories of life in your own area. Maybe you'll trigger some thoughts for a future column. kerrscorner@ulsteronline.org.uk

Saturday, January 14, 2006

The Green Green Attitudes of Home

People in Northern Ireland want to be more eco-friendley but they need Government help, according to a new report which surveyed over 1000 local people on their environmental opinions.

In the report 'Who Cares? A Survey of Attitudes to the Environment in Northern Ireland', 80% of respondents agreed with the statement 'I'd be willing to make changes to my lifestyle to reduce environmental damage to the planet'. Some of the most popular suggestions were recycling more rubbish, buying more locally-produced food and buying more energy efficient appliances.

The least popular measure was driving your car less. Mary T. Conway, mother of two living outside Omagh explains that the lack of any convenient public transport where she lives makes the family very dependant on a car., "Work, school, shopping, socialising - we've no choice. Our car is a necessity, not a luxury."

The survey, carried out by MORI Ireland, highlights a number of areas where the public believe the government should be taking action.
* Reducing VAT on energy efficient appliances (91%)
* Tax breaks for households that try to reduce their environmental impact (90%)
* More funding for the development of biofuels which are cleaner alternatives to fossil fuels like petrol (84%)

Linda Giles from Dromore says, "It's really up to the government to come up with some answers. I don't think individuals like me can make much of a difference."

Over three quarters of respondents believed that there should be a requirement on business to publish their environmental performance but also that there should be tax breaks for businesses that are eco-friendly.

Martin, a small business owner from Ballynahinch says that there is no provision for recycling bins for businesses in his locality. He pays between £4 - £5 per bin per week therefore tries to keep waste to a minimum. "Finding time to sort out my waste and more importantly the time required to bring the waste products to the council's local recycling area is impossible. They open during business hours and it's not feasible for me to take an hour out of my day simply to deal with rubbish

The data showed that those in the highest social class category and those living in the Belfast City Council area were the most likely to be concerned about environmental issues.

The most unexpected finding from this survey related to the views of the youngest age group (15-24). While most did display anxiety about environmental problems, their level of concern was less than that of other age groups.

"In the environmental movement and in government we are sometimes all to quick to tell the public what lifestyle changes they should be making. With this report, we wanted to take a step back and ask the people of Northern Ireland what they really think about the environment and how easy it is to be eco-friendly today." said Jim Kitchen, head of WWF Northern Ireland. The report can be downloaded from http://www.wwf-uk.org/core/about/nireland.asp

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