Stephen Farry MLA said: “I welcome the launch of the Green New Deal Group’s Housing Fund initiative. Investing in the green economy is a major opportunity for our society particularly at this time of economic and financial pressure. The green economy can bring a range of benefits to Northern Ireland. There is environmental advantage from reducing the use of carbon. There are financial savings to be made from increased environmental efficiency in homes, businesses and the public sector estate. High energy costs are a particular problem in Northern Ireland.
“There are potential economic outcomes in terms of new forms of economic activity and employment and social benefits regarding tackling our high levels of fuel poverty.
“Addressing energy efficiency in the domestic sector is a good place to start. This can make the biggest difference in the shortest period of time with the least investment of resources. There is also short lead in time with no need for planning approval and it is also labour intensive and a good way of finding employment for people in the construction sect which has been particularly hard hit by the recession.
“The outcome of the CSR and the challenging financial context for Northern Ireland should not be used as a reason for ignoring the opportunity of the Green New Deal, rather the green economy must be viewed as a smarter and better way of doing things and ultimately an investment to save. In the past, our Executive has fallen behind governments elsewhere regarding environmental issues and it’s now important that they grasp this opportunity with both hands.
“The business case in today’s report suggests that two thirds of the funding can come from non-governmental sources leaving a commitment of only £70m to be found from the block grant. The release of a small investment today will deliver significant savings within a very short timeframe.”