CIEH urges Government to address climate change and housing standards in Northern Ireland

Publication Date: 14th April 2016

Subject: CIEH

The Chartered Institute of Environmental Health (CIEH) is urging the incoming Assembly to implement a Climate Change Bill for Northern Ireland and better protect vulnerable people in the housing market. 

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Launching its manifesto for the next Programme for Government 2016 – 2021, the CIEH outlines 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.

The CIEH, the professional body at the forefront of public health and safety in Northern Ireland, has played a major role in promoting health and well-being changes and have been integral to Belfast’s transformation into a Sustainable Food City.

The initiative saw £1 million invested in the growth and promotion of healthy sustainable food to address social, economic and environmental problems including obesity and food poverty. 

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 organisation believes the Assembly must build on the discussion paper on climate change circulated by the Minister during the most recent term with a lack of consensus meaning 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.”

Active in all sectors and across a range of services, the CIEH represents environmental health professionals who engage with the public and businesses to foster a safe and sustainable society by protecting individuals and communities.

Environmental health professionals achieve this in a multitude of ways including protecting the environment, ensuring safe food, improving housing standards and keeping people safe at work and in public places. In addition, they work to counter a range of threats such as climate change, natural disasters and human or animal disease.

Environmental health supports business growth by championing effective standards and the service is particularly relevant to small businesses which make up the vast majority of the NI economy. SMEs often lack the resources to invest in and demonstrate comprehensive self compliance and rely on the assistance and guidance of EHPs to do so.  Environmental health has also contributed to Belfast’s transformation into a Sustainable Food City.

To read the CIEH Northern Ireland manifesto click here or visit the home page.

ENDS  

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