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Northern Ireland Environment Link Logo





Dec 2018 right left


Hedge & Garden Maintenance

Sunday 2nd December
Derryanvil, near Portadown



Tuesday 4th December
Window on Wildlife (WOW), Belfast


Making Environmentally Friendly Christmas Decorations

Saturday 15th December
South Belfast



The transportation network in Northern Ireland has developed around the private car. Car travel continues to dominate the way we do most of our day–to–day travelling, with 73% of our journeys being made by car. The proportion of walking journeys has decreased from 19% in 2001–2003 to 16% in 2010–2012. Over the same time period, the proportion of car journeys has increased from 69% to 73%.


Despite policy commitments to develop sustainable transport, the current Programme for Government allocates 80% of transport expenditure to roads–based measures.

Investment in public transport here is just half the proportion of that in England, Scotland and the Republic of Ireland. Whilst recent investment in public transport has produced encouraging results in Northern Ireland, much more should be done.

This continued over–reliance on the private car has an increasingly negative impact on Northern Ireland’s environment. Transportation currently accounts for approximately 25% of man–made greenhouse gas emissions here and it is also the sector which continues to experience significant increases in emissions.

The transportation network is also vital to our economy and provides the essential link between production, distribution and consumption which underpins all economic activity. It connects businesses with their customers and suppliers and allows people to gain access to employment, education, health, tourism and leisure services. A better integrated transportation system has the potential to help economic prosperity and health and well–being through improved connectivity, reduced congestion, improved journey time and reliability, and increased accessibility.

The Stern Review – The Economics of Climate Change indicates that a well–designed transportation strategy can tackle carbon emissions and support economic growth. The challenge for Northern Ireland is to deliver a transportation network that strikes the right balance, supporting economic growth while still reducing greenhouse gas emissions and other environmental impacts and meeting the transport needs of all in our society.  

NIEL provides a secretariat service to the Transport Working Group, which is a forum for members to advocate shared policy positions leading to a more sustainable approach to transport in Northern Ireland.

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Between 2013 and 2014, diesel use increased by 3.3%, whereas petrol use decreased by 2.0%.

During 2012–13, there were 40.7 million passenger journeys on Ulsterbus, around the same as last year (40.6 million) and an 8% decrease from 2008–09 (44.0 million).

During 2012–13, there were 26.2 million passenger journeys on Metro services, with an increase of 1% from 2011–12 (25.9 million) and a decrease of 1% since 2008–09 (26.5 million).

There were 1,060,328 vehicles licensed in Northern Ireland at 31 December 2012. This is an increase of 1% from last year (1,053,338 vehicles licensed at 31 December 2011) and an increase of 4% since 2008.

There were 11.5 million rail passenger journeys made in 2012–13, an increase of 7% from 2011–12 (10.7 million). Rail passenger journeys have increased by 13% since 2008–09 (10.2 million).

The prevalence of driving to work is highest amongst residents of rural constituencies, notably Strangford, Mid Ulster and North Antrim, and lowest in Belfast, particularly Belfast West and Belfast North.

Ten per cent of Northern Ireland residents aged 16 to 74 who were in employment worked mainly at or from home. A further 7.7 per cent usually walked to work, while 4.8 per cent travelled by bus, and 1.3 per cent by train. 3.4 per cent used other methods.

Residents living in rural constituencies were more likely than their urban counterparts to work from home.

58 per cent of people aged 16 to 74 years who were in employment usually drove a vehicle to work. A further 10 per cent were members of a car or van pool, while 4.9 per cent usually travelled to work as a passenger in a car or van.

Over three–quarters of households (77 per cent) in Northern Ireland had access to a car or van in March 2011, up from 74 per cent in April 2001.

On average, Northern Ireland residents travelled 5,888 miles per year.

Each person made an average of 894 journeys each year during the period 2009–2011. This has decreased from the 1999–2001 average of 978 journeys per person per year.

Car travel made up just over four fifths (81%) of the total distance travelled in 2009–2011.

We walked on average 137 miles each year, 2% of our total distance travelled during 2009–2011.

The longest average journeys lengths were on Northern Ireland Railways (20.8 miles), although we only made an average of 5 of these per person per year.

Car journeys account for 72% if all journeys made and were, on average, just over 7 miles long (during 2009–2011).

Nearly one sixth (15%) of all journeys were less than one mile long, with just under two thirds of these short journeys made on foot (63%). The car was the dominant mode of transport (79%) for all journeys over one mile (during 2009–2011).

We spent 298 hours per year travelling within Northern Ireland – approximately twelve and a half days each year or 49 minutes per day. Around 33 minutes per day were spent travelling by car and 8 minutes a day were spent walking (during 2009–2011).

Transport emissions accounted for 21% of Northern Ireland’s total GHG emissions in 2010.

GHG emissions from the Transport sector in NI have increased by 26% despite improvements in efficiency of transport vehicles, as a result of strong growth in transport demand and increased affordability of cars.

Road Transport represented 90% of all transport emissions in 2010.

65% of transport emissions come from cars.

Car travel continues to dominate the way we do most of our day–to–day travelling, with 72% of our journeys being made by car.