£522 million Generated 22 June 2012
Five hundred and twenty two million pounds generated by historic environment – Minister Attwood
Alex Attwood will launch the first ever report quantifying the
contribution of the historic environment to Northern Ireland.
Entitled “A Study of the Economic Value of Northern Ireland’s Historic Environment”, it highlights that the historic environment makes a very significant contribution to our economy, generating £522 million and creating 10,000 jobs.
The report also highlights that the historic environment has the potential to be a cash cow and generate many more jobs and wealth, and be a real boost to the economy. For example, the Republic of Ireland produces almost four times as many jobs from their built and natural heritage than we do. Wales produces three times as many.
Environment Minister Alex Attwood in advance of the launch in St Patrick’s School Donegall Street Belfast said:
“The scale, wonder and beauty of our historic and natural environment here is unsurpassed on any part of these islands. We have almost 200 monuments in state care and a further 1,800 that are scheduled, 8,500 listed historical buildings, 17,000 industrial sites, a stunning 125,000 pre 1919 buildings, and 3,000 shipwrecks. Be it Dundrum or Dunluce Castles, Titanic or the Thompson Dry Dock, Derry’s Walls or the unique Patrician sites around Downpatrick, there is much to cherish and to be proud of in the North.
“But a key finding of the report is that we can develop our heritage much further to boost our economy. There is a hard seam of economic steel that can be harnessed amidst all the eyecatching splendour. Money in monuments. Our historic environment generates an annual output of £522 million, which creates or sustains 10,000 jobs. The equivalent figures for Wales are £1,837million output and 30,000 jobs. In the Republic, €1.5 billion in annual national wealth and 37,000 jobs. We can develop our heritage and create many more jobs and do so in a way that still cherishes and protects it. Unemployment stands at 60,000 in the North and rising. There is a tremendous opportunity here, as Wales and Ireland has shown, to create many many more jobs. ”
Turning to how he will harness the opportunity to grow the economy as a result of today’s report, Alex Attwood said: “I will put in place a strategy, with a robust action plan, to harness opportunity. I will be seeking Executive colleagues’ support for more money to develop our historic environment. I will be bold, draft and agree challenging new laws that robustly protect our heritage and deepen our green and clean credentials.”
Alan Clarke, Chief Executive of the Northern Ireland Tourist Board, said that Northern Ireland’s historic environment was part of the fabric of the tourism industry with significant potential to further mainstream heritage within tourism;
“Linkages between different sectors is crucial if we are to fully maximise the potential of tourism here. Our tourism offering is built on our unique stories, beautiful scenery and living history. Our heritage and historic environment gives authenticity and stand out to our tourism industry as well as helping us to tell our stories to visitors and improving civic pride”.
Commenting on the report, Fionnuala Jay–O’Boyle, Founder of the Belfast Buildings Preservation Trust said:
“This is a promising start, but if we are to maximise the regeneration opportunities that this report highlights we need a strategic and coherent approach across the public, private and voluntary sectors. Our historic buildings have the capacity to generate considerable income, employment, well being and a sense of place. We cannot afford to ignore or squander this.”