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NI 'must bring in climate change bill'

EHN Reporter13/04/2016 - 14:01

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Climate change - dry riverbed
Climate change - dry riverbed

CIEH has urged assembly members to implement a Climate Change Bill for Northern Ireland and better protect vulnerable people in the housing market.

Launching its manifesto for the next Programme for Government 2016 – 2021, the CIEH outlined its environmental health priorities calling on all political parties to act quickly to cut greenhouse gas emissions locally, introduce mandatory licensing for all tenancies and implement a Public Health Bill to ensure an ‘all hazards’ approach to public health.

With Northern Ireland the only region of the UK that is yet to introduce a Climate Change Act, the CIEH believes implementing a Bill is a key priority for the incoming Executive, with the need to set clear targets for carbon reduction and also adapting to the unavoidable impacts of climate change by introducing ‘climate-proofing’ across all public policy.

The CIEH believes the Assembly must build on the discussion paper on climate change circulated by the Minister during the most recent term. The lack of consensus at the time meant that the attempt to introduce a Bill failed.

The CIEH are also calling on the government to introduce a modern, appropriate, risk-based housing fitness standard along with mandatory licensing for all tenancies to help ensure adequate protection for some of the most vulnerable in society.  

Gary McFarlane, Director of CIEH Northern Ireland, said: ‘There are a number of outstanding issues which we feel must be tackled during the next mandate. Firstly, we are out of step with the rest of the UK on efforts to address climate change and believe introducing a bill would help us set clear and achievable goals for both climate change mitigation and adaptation. This is vital not only to public protection, health and quality of life, but also our economy.

‘Secondly the tragic deaths of five homeless people in Belfast City Centre has reinforced the need for much more protection of vulnerable people in our housing sector. If these issues are tackled appropriately by the Executive during the next mandate we believe the changes would have a positive impact on the lives of people across in Northern Ireland.’

Gary McFarlane added: ‘We must ensure that local government in Northern Ireland is not subjected to the same kind of budgetary cuts that have seriously compromised public protection in the rest of the UK.  It is imperative that our members can continue to do their work and are able to protect the lives and improve the wellbeing of individuals and communities, which also brings significant benefits to the NI economy.’


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