Rural dwellers more likely to report high happiness levels – DAERA report

Written by Bernie Commins from Agriland

If you live in rural Northern Ireland (NI), you are more likely to be happy, be satisfied with life, and own your own home - even if it will be more expensive than an urban one - according to a new report from the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA).

Key Rural Issues 2021 aims to highlight key urban/rural differences and disparities across a range of domains.

Among the many findings, it revealed that rural and urban economies in Northern Ireland differed substantially in terms of dominant sectors, with 40% of rural businesses belonging to the agriculture, forestry and fishing sectors, followed by construction (17%).

Urban businesses, meanwhile, were found to be diverse, and spread across a variety of industries, with professional, scientific and technical businesses (13%) the largest, closely followed by retail (12%), construction (10%), and arts, entertainment and recreation (10%).

Key statistics from the DAERA report include:

  • Population growth from 2001-2020 in rural areas has outstripped that in urban areas by a factor of almost three to one (20% to 7%);
  • Rural workers (91%) are also much more likely to use private transport to commute than those from urban areas (76%);
  • More than half (58%) of NI businesses are in rural areas, yet rural businesses account for less than a quarter (20%) of employees and around a quarter (25%) of total business turnover;
  • Just 18% of all overnight tourism visits to NI, and only 12% of associated expenditure took place in rural locations;
  • Levels of home ownership are higher in rural than in urban areas (80% to 65%), with house prices in rural areas higher, on average, than in towns and cities;
  • People living in rural areas were more likely to be in employment, with around three quarters (74%) employed either full or part-time;
  • People living in rural areas were more likely to report high happiness levels (44%) than those in urban areas (36%), and high life satisfaction (40% compared to 34%);
  • Rural dwellers experience longer waiting times for emergency services than their urban counterparts, and waiting times are increasing;
  • Offences with a racist, sectarian or homophobic motivation increased in urban areas between 2019 and 2020, with little change in rural areas.

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Man fined £300 for bonfire-related waste offences

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Written by William Kellett from Agriland

A man has pleaded guilty at Newtownards Magistrates’ Court to waste offences relating to a bonfire next to the electrical sub-station on the Circular Road in Newtownards, Co. Down.

Gareth Gill (51) of Abbot’s Walk, Newtownards pleaded guilty to two charges under the Waste and Contaminated Land (Northern Ireland) Order 1997, for which he was fined £150 each and ordered to pay a £15 offender’s levy

On June 25, 2018, PSNI officers went to Gill’s yard, where they found a large amount of waste consisting of scrap wood, pallets, carpet and underlay.

Discussion with Northern Ireland Environment Agency (NIEA) officers confirmed the site...