Lawther questions Government Sustainable Development Strategy

Antrim Alliance Councillor, Alan Lawther, expressed concern that the Sustainable Development Strategy tabled for discussion at Antrim Borough Council’s new community planning committee was likely to be all hot air and no action.

Cllr Lawther stated: “This 176 page document is likely to be a waste of paper if the Direct Rule Ministers and our civil service continue the way they are going. At Christmas, the Secretary of State, Peter Hain, announced £59 million for grant aiding alternative energy schemes. We still have no grant system in place 7 months later.

“The previous grant scheme ran out in March leaving small businesses that are trying to break into this market with no potential for gaining new customers until grants are in place. Far from making Northern Ireland a “world class exemplar” as this document states, we are showing inertia and inefficiency. Furthermore these businesses will now also be facing rates which will put them at a disadvantage to their competitors in the Republic of Ireland.

“The document talks about advisory bodies being set up by 2008, to ensure all public sector buildings are sustainable in nature. £15 million is about to be spent in Antrim on new schools where there will be little advice given on sustainable construction, we need advice provided on this matter urgently. As a governor of a school about to be rebuilt, the level of advice in this area is pathetic and none of the £59 million in grants can yet be applied.”

“The document also states that water is a valuable resource, and to protect it and ensure it is used wisely, it is a long term aim to have water meters installed in domestic properties. Why then will the current proposals not allow home owners to install their own meters? The truth will out, and it is now clear that in its current form, tap tax is nothing more than a further property tax with no relevance to sustainability at all. Water Service, by advocating this policy has demonstrated that they have no regard for water conservation whatsoever.”


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