A new project designed to reduce waste on Rathlin Island has received more than £4.6 million in funding.
Famous as an idyllic home for puffins, lighthouses and beautiful cliff tops – Rathlin is Northern Ireland’s only inhabited offshore island and has been selected as one of four new Green Transition Ecosystems across the UK.
The goal of the project is to convert the best of environmental research into real world benefits.
For Rathlin Island, the two-year Future Island-Island initiative will be led by Ulster University in partnership with Queen’s University Belfast, with funding secured from the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC).
Using advanced tools like 3D immersive technology, the team will work to protect rivers, loughs and the seacoast from plastic littering.
It also aims to improve approaches to waste management and protect Rathlin from any of the negative impacts of tourism.
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Rathlin Island resident Dr Jessica Bates, a senior lecturer with Ulster University, was appointed as ‘Island Champion’ earlier this year.
“This is hugely significant for Rathlin Island and I am delighted to be part of the research team,” she said.
“Future Island-Island will lead to community-led, innovative and creative design solutions to pressing environmental and ecological challenges in a way that is sustainable and scalable.”
“Living on Rathlin Island myself, I know the island provides a unique opportunity to explore, engage and enact a design-led green transition, and this project paired with support through Rathlin Community Development Association and Rathlin Island Policy, will bring us closer to reaching our ambitious goal to be carbon neutral by 2030.”
Minister for Energy Efficiency and Green Finance Lord Callanan commented: “From helping to protect natural habitats from plastic pollution to improving waste management, the Future Island-Island project – backed by £4.6m government funding – will further support our ambitious action on climate change.
“And by working closely with the community, the project will also help ensure that local views and experiences are front and centre in our transition to a cleaner, more secure energy system.”
Professor Justin Magee, Principal Investigator and Research Director for Art and Design at Ulster University, said it was a valuable opportunity to test green inventions in the real world.
“We aim to exemplify how these small rural islands, under the correct conditions, can deliver high level innovation to drive prosperity and enable change.
“Our work will result in applied design outcomes and policy design, as we navigate a series of challenging deliverables that will affect change and shape our futures.”