'Eco-friendly public works can revive economy'

Eco-friendly public work programmes could help revive the North’s stalling economy, it was claimed today.

The Executive could provide work for the struggling construction and manufacturing industries, similar to schemes introduced under President Roosevelt’s New Deal in 1930s America, while at the same time reducing the region’s carbon footprint, according to the UK's Sustainable Development Commission.

Projects could include re-insulating Housing Executive homes, expanding public transport networks and introducing energy-saving measures in public buildings.

The commission, which advises the British prime minister on ways to create a low-carbon economy, has called for a £30bn (€33bn) stimulus package specifically for sustainable development projects across the UK.

The Stormont Executive would be in line for a portion of any money made available.

Launching the commission’s Sustainable New Deal today, the head of the organisation in the North Jim Kitchen said: “Governments around the world are struggling to kick-start economies that have been exposed and battered by the current financial crisis.

“Many believe that ’New Deal’ politics will be the catalyst for recovery, but massively increased public spending needs to be defined, not only in its effects for this year or next, but over the next 20 to 30 years.

“The Sustainable Development Commission believes that a real opportunity exists for the Government to promote a ’Sustainable New Deal’, focusing on key areas that will not only help the transition to a low-carbon economy in the coming years, but that will also create employment now, reduce fuel poverty now, tackle social inequalities now, and lay the foundation for a new generation of innovative, exciting and world leading businesses in Northern Ireland.”

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