LWM’s co-founder, Colin Hines, continues his work as convenor of the Green New Deal Group with Larry Elliott, Tony Juniper, Jeremy Leggett, Caroline Lucas, Richard Murphy, Ann Pettifor, Charles Secrett and Andrew Simms.

John Woods, Project Leader of the Northern Ireland Green New Deal Group, where businessmen, trades unionists, farmers, voluntary organisations and environmentalists have united around a common platform, has kept in touch with Colin since his visit and ‘rallying call’ in 2009.

Mr Woods sent an email message describing a successful November meeting with over 100 people, including many senior officials and MLAs at Stormont. Two Ministers who attended both spoke supportively and the main pitch was jointly made by CBI [NI] and the Irish Congress of Trades Unions [ICTU]. The Energy Regulator, Iain Osborne, presided.

The Belfast Telegraph’s Clare Weir wrote a two page report ‘Energy efficiency is good for our pockets’, which describes the Northern Ireland Green New Deal group plans to revive the province’s economy through job creation while building a sustainable energy network:

“The Green New Deal group is a coalition of 40 organisations and individuals from across the public, private and third sectors led by Bryson Group, the Confederation of Business Industry (CBI), Energy Saving Trust, Friends of the Earth, Irish Confederation of Trade Unions, the Institute of Directors, Nicva, the Northern Ireland Housing Executive, the Sustainable Development Commission, Utility Regulator and Ulster Farmers Union . . .

“The plan is being supported by high profile MLAs from all the main parties including the Alliance Party’s Stephen Farry, the SDLP’s Conal McDevitt, Sinn Fein’s Mitchel McLaughlin, Ulster Unionist Roy Beggs and the DUP’s Simon Hamilton. “ 

The GND chair, energy regulator Iain Osborne said:

“Our initial plan is to target 100,000 homes over the first three years and 500,000 in the next 10 . . . The benefit of this proposal is that it is ‘oven ready’ and work could start on the ground by October 2011. The employment and economic benefits would be immense.

“These are things that all householders probably know they should have done already but have not had the time, the inclination or the support on a big scale. There would also be grants on offer for those who want to or need to avail of them.

“Including things like cavity wall and loft insulation, newer boilers, solar panels and the like we estimate that each home transformation could cost the householder £800. We realise that not everyone has £800 lying around, so we have made arrangements for a ‘pay as you save’ scheme. We also estimate that the householder could make savings of £300 a year, even in the first year.

“Unlike other plans, this one is unique in terms of bringing the CBI, trades unions, the public, private and voluntary sectors — over 40 different bodies and groups. In the future the plan is to widen the scheme to benefit the public and commercial sectors. “

Nigel Smyth, regional director of the Confederation of British Industry [NI] said the Government should “grab” the opportunities presented in the New Green Deal “with both hands . . .This plan will reduce the risk to local people of rising energy prices and will reduce our carbon footprint.”

“The return vastly outweighs the initial investment needed from the Government. The pay-as-you-save aspect is new and will be unique in Northern Ireland. The plans could help cut a total of £52,000 of energy costs and prompt up to a 25% reduction in carbon emissions.

“The plan could help reduce fuel poverty, will be hugely beneficial to the social housing sector and it’s predicted, cut millions from the healthcare budget as people will be living in warmer, cleaner homes. Jobs wise, it’s predicted that there could be between 2400 to 3500 direct jobs, excluding the supply chain and knock-on roles and positions.” 

Peter Bunting, assistant general secretary of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions is another supporter of the scheme:

“This document and comprehensive business plans could be a very important step for the future of Northern Ireland . . . There is an eclectic mix of people and groups behind the New Green Deal for a reason — it’s something that everyone can agree is very positive as an instrument of job creation, a way to improve the environment and a way to save money in the long term and get us back on the road to recovery.”

The full article can be read here.

Colin Hines has been invited to speak about the Green New Deal during a family visit to Australia and New Zealand.