Page last updated at 05:52 GMT, Friday, 26 June 2009 06:52 UK

NI groups unite on green platform

power station
The group says Northern Ireland is too dependent on fossil fuels

NI businesses, trade unions, farmers, voluntary bodies and environmentalists have united on a green platform.

They have formed a coalition called the Green New Deal.

The group has called on government to take a joined-up approach to the recession, rising unemployment, rising energy prices and climate change.

It wants investment to cut consumption of fossil fuels and create thousands of jobs; help secure NI's energy supply and build a low-carbon economy.

Amongst its plans are:

• Refurbish tens of thousands of existing homes each year with full insulation and renewable energy.

• Transform the energy performance of public and commercial buildings through energy efficiency measures.

• 'Decarbonise', regionalise and localise the supplies of both electricity and heat through large-scale renewables, micro-generation and using fossil fuels more efficiently.

• Employ a 'carbon army' of high and lower-skilled workers to implement this vast systematic reconstruction programme creating around 24,000 new jobs.

It also calls for the creation of thousands of "green collar" jobs.

The group estimates the total cost of a full green recovery package for Northern Ireland is likely to be about £900m per year.

It says a number of potential funding streams exist, including a combination of private and public funds, European money and bonds.

Nigel Smyth, director of CBI Northern Ireland, said: "Northern Ireland is 99% dependent on imported fossil fuels for its energy.

"If fuel prices continue to rise as predicted, Northern Ireland's economy is at risk of failure.

"A programme of insulating homes and other buildings, and developing renewable energy, would provide a much needed boost to the construction industry and create a golden opportunity for our fledgling sustainable industries sector."

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