‘Dirty Old Town’ Tag Costing North Millions In Investment

Dirty streets and littered roadways could be costing Northern Ireland millions of pounds in potential new investment, the head of an environmental charity has claimed.

And an estimated £7m a year is also lost in tourism spend due primarily to the unkempt state of the region’s coastline, the Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful organisation’s chief executive Dr Ian Humphreys said.

He was speaking at the launch of a new campaign – entitled ‘Live Here Love Here’ – which aims to encourage the public to embrace their civic pride and to take personal responsibility towards the environment and their local community to create positive change.

And he also revealed that he was aware of a potential inward investment company which, following a familiarisation trip to the north recently, said they weren’t interested in putting their money and jobs into Northern Ireland “because of the state of the place”.

“That was unfortunate and hopefully a one-off, but should be a warning of the damage littering can do,” he told The Irish News.

“In Northern Ireland we are lucky, because around every corner are stunning landscapes which offer picturesque views, and through this new

‘Live Here Love Here’ campaign we want the public to embrace their sense of civic pride and play their role in both improving their neighbourhoods and helping to protect the environment.

“The stark reality is that we suffer a £40m bill for street cleaning every year while the bill for vandalism is £69 m and for graffiti £38m.

“If we can move people away from these behaviours and act to redress them, there are huge gains to be won creating opportunities to invest for our future.

“Working together we can build that sense of community pride that will make our neighbourhoods so much better. We would encourage everyone to pledge their commitment today through the website www.liveherelovehere.org and make that one positive change to encourage people across Northern Ireland to show that they love where they live by helping out in their local communities.”

Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful is working in partnership with the Department of the Environment, NI Tourist Board and half of the north’s 26 councils is aiming to achieve cleaner streets; reduce dog fouling; chewing gum and graffiti; improve use of derelict buildings and see the careful development of green space.

Environment minister Mark H Durkan said: “The environment is one of our greatest assets and one that deserves to be cherished, protected and enhanced. It belongs to all of us and it is right and proper that we should all embrace that responsibility. I would encourage everyone to join me in pledging support to the Live Here Love Here campaign.”

Belfast lord mayor Nichola Mallon added: The ‘Live Here Love Here’ campaign has been developed to encourage everybody to take pride in where they come from – it is very much the public’s campaign and seeks to bring about positive changes that we all want to see in our communities.

More than one in seven streets and parks across the north fail to meet acceptable standards for litter, with just three per cent of the places it surveyed last year found to be litter free, according to Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful (formerly TidyNI).

One beach alone was found to have more than 10,000 pieces of litter per kilometre.

Source: irishnews.com