22/10/2002

Environmental investment may help local economy

Infrastructural investment on innovative measures to reduce flood risks and combat water pollution by improved storm drainage could produce significant benefits for the Northern Ireland economy.

The message from Tracy Meharg, Invest NI’s Managing Director of Innovation and Capability Development Services, came as severe weather lashed the province causing localised flooding.

Speaking at a one-day conference held to examine how Sustainable Drainage Systems or 'SUDS', might be more widely used within Northern Ireland to counter potential problems before they become serious for the community, Tracy Meharg said that more efficient drainage systems may also improve the competitiveness of industry by reducing flood damage potential and effluent treatment costs.

Over 200 delegates, representing developers, industry, agriculture, consultants, academia, local and central government and Non Governmental Organisations attended the conference, hosted jointly by Invest NI and the Department of the Environment's Environment and Heritage Service (EHS) at the Culloden Hotel in Holywood.

Taking part were speakers from the UK and Ireland, and also from the United States.

Tracy Meharg said: “SUDS could offer a win-win for industry and developers by providing cost effective drainage solutions for industry. The fact that 30% of the pollution entering our rivers comes from storm waters from roads and other hard surfaces, such as parking areas at factories and office buildings, has important implications for industrial and commercial projects, including those undertaken directly by Invest NI or in partnership with private developers.

“Invest NI supports the fundamental principles of sustainable development and actively encourages SUDS projects through the work of our Property Solutions Unit and Scientific Services and in partnership with EHS. Our support for this important initiative is a further demonstration of Invest NI’s partnership approach to accelerate Northern Ireland’s future economic growth.

“By working closely with partners, such as EHS, we aim to help create a modern infrastructure and provide the support mechanisms that will enable innovation and entrepreneurship to flourish,” she added.

(SP)

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