ARK Publications

Press Releases: 24 February 2003


Northern Ireland motorists are unwilling to cut back on their driving to protect the environment, according to the results of a survey just published.

As London introduces congestion charges to reduce the number of vehicles using the city, figures from the Life and Times Survey - a joint venture by Queen's University and the University of Ulster - show that local drivers are more unwilling than their British counterparts to abandon their vehicles.

Only 11% of Northern Ireland drivers 'always' or 'often' reduce their car use for the sake of the environment compared to 14% in Britain. And 61% of drivers in Northern Ireland said that they never cut back on their car journeys to make the province greener.

Paula Devine and Katrina Lloyd, research directors of ARK, the NI Social and Political Archive, said that the drivers' attitudes are symptomatic of Northern Ireland views on the environment.

They said:

"While there is widespread concern about threats to the environment, especially from air pollution, pesticides and chemicals, fewer people in Northern Ireland than in Britain are prepared to pay higher prices or taxes or accept cuts in living standards to protect the environment".

Other key findings to emerge from the research include:

  • Some 32% of Northern Ireland people say they recycle waste 'always' or 'often' compared to 51% of people in Britain who claim to recycle regularly.
  • Business and industry are seen as poor protectors of the environment. Respondents felt that both the government and people in general made more efforts to protect the environment than did business and industry.
  • However Northern Ireland is seen as not doing enough to protect the environment with 41% of respondents saying it was doing too little. More than 78% of respondents showed some support for international agreements on environmental controls which Northern Ireland and other countries should be made to follow.
  • There is strong support for tougher legislation to force everyone, but particularly business, to protect the environment.

The researchers concluded:

"The overall message is that the public of Northern Ireland is not environmentally active. This is a message that both government agencies and environmental pressure groups should take on board".

Disclaimer: © ARK 2002 Last Updated on Thursday, 20-May-2004 15:26