Northern Ireland’s top environmental concerns revealed

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Monday, June 10th, 2019

Head of DAERA’s Environment, Marine and Fisheries Group, David Small, has welcomed the latest environmental statistics which show Northern Ireland’s household recycling rate has increased to over 48%, whilst landfill rates are the lowest ever recorded.  

The figures released from the Northern Ireland Environmental Statistics report also reveal that illegal dumping of waste continues to be a top environmental concern for households here, followed by pollution in rivers (28%), litter (28%), climate change (27%), and traffic congestion (27%).



Top actions taken by households to reduce waste included the reuse of plastic bags, the use of energy saving lightbulbs and the re-use of clothes and furniture, whilst 1.1 million fewer plastic bags were dispensed to consumers in 17/18.

“Our stunning landscape and natural environment are world renowned and DAERA’s top priority is to protect and promote that environment. From climate change and water quality, to air pollution and waste, our goal is for a clean, healthy environment that everyone can enjoy and benefit from,” explained David.

He added, “We are delighted with the figures in relation to household recycling and landfill, however the statistics also reveal issues in the wider environment including some reports which suggest an increase in the average temperature since the beginning of the 20th century, and the fact that 71% of litter along our coasts is made of plastic.”



The report, which covers eight main areas including Demographics & Public Opinion, Air & Climate, Water, Marine, Land, Biodiversity, Built Heritage and Waste has revealed a range of key environmental indicators.

Of the 21 lakes monitored in Northern Ireland, five achieved a ‘good’ standard when classified in 2018, whilst drinking water quality compliance remains at over 99%.

There has been an increase of 49% since 2008 in the wild bird population, but a decrease of 12% in the wetland bird population. Figures also revealed an increase in agri-environment schemes which encourage farmers and landowners to manage their land to benefit the environment.

Whilst a 21% population growth in Northern Ireland since 1971 was highlighted, with future projections indicating a continuing increase over the next 20-25 years.



David added, “We need to be mindful of the increasing pressures on our environment including those posed by a growing population. It is crucial that we continue to find ways to ensure our lifestyle choices don’t impact negatively on the environment, and the resources we depend on such as water, air, food and energy.

“That is why we will shortly be launching a discussion paper on how to deliver a better environment for Northern Ireland. This paper will inform a future consultation on how we protect and enhance our environment.”

Mr Small said DAERA would continue to promote the circular economy by encouraging people to see waste as a resource, with the focus on reuse and recycling rather than disposal.



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