Possible implications for Northern Ireland of the Daylight Saving Bill

Written evidence from the Northern Ireland Sports Forum

1. The Northern Ireland Sports Forum as the representative body for Governing Bodies of Sport in Northern Ireland will be making this submission on behalf of sport and recreation in Northern Ireland.

2. We would strongly support any proposal to move the clocks forward by one hour throughout the whole year as is proposed by Rebecca Harris’s Private Members’ Bill on daylight saving.

3. It goes without saying that there are widespread advantages to making the change; however we will be making our submission based solely on its impact on sport.

4. Our experience as a sporting organisation tells us that moving the clocks will allow more people the chance to be more active throughout the whole year, not just the summer months. By aligning our waking hours to the UK’s sunlit hours people will have a much greater opportunity to play sport and to be more physically active. Essentially the ‘extra’ hour would mean that sports facilities without floodlighting for example, could be utilised more effectively even in the winter months. Additionally activities which cannot be undertaken in the dark elsewhere, for example, on our coasts, lakes or on mountain and hillsides, would become more viable in the evening.

5. As sporting organisations we believes that the greater use of facilities throughout the year and the greater incentive to get active throughout the year is in itself a good thing, we also think it is worth pointing out the wider public policy benefits that an extra hour of sport and recreation can deliver for the Government. These include:

(i) Improved levels of physical and mental health. For example, people involved in sport or physical activity are up to 50% less likely to develop major chronic medical conditions

(ii) Improved social cohesion within communities

(iii) Improved skills. Sport increases educational attainment

(iv) Reductions in crime and anti-social behaviour. Sport and physical activity schemes involving 20,000 13-17 year olds have returned a 36% reduction in burglary and an 18% reduction in youth crime

(v) Increased levels of ‘social capital’ which helps to build strong communities. Sport and exercise are the single greatest contributors to social participation.

(vi) A significant contribution to the nation’s economy.

6. We do not underestimate the challenge facing government as undoubtedly changing the clocks would be a bold move but we believe and as the points above illustrate, the benefits of the change far outweigh the risks. Giving people an extra hour of sunlight in their waking lives will allow them to lead more active lifestyles and that activity can make people happier and healthier.

23 March 2011