The rising cost of energy on education, health and public services in Northern Ireland

The cost of keeping street lights on in Northern Ireland is set to double this financial year.

That's according to figures shared exclusively with UTV which show that last year it cost £17.4m, while this year the Infrastructure Department expects that total to rise to approximately £35m.

"It's a big increase alright," said Roads Expert Wesley Johnston.

"It seems to be inline with what we're hearing elsewhere about the cost of energy."

"The street light system is very, very extensive, there are thousands of them across the province so it really reflects such a vast network in a climate of rising costs," he added.

In a statement the Infrastructure Department said the predicted costings are "highly volatile due to the market conditions", adding "we continue to work through the impact of the energy price cap".

Infrastructure is not the only area currently feeling the energy price pinch. Schools and health services are also grappling with expenses which are unavoidable.

Last year, the Education Authority (EA) calculated total energy costs (oil, electric and natural gas) of around £47m. For 2022/23 it predicts that figure to rise to £64.8m, which "includes the EA's estimated impact of the NI energy bill relief scheme".

As for school transport, the picture is similar. The EA anticipates it will cost an additional £10m this year - to reach a total of £110m - compared to last year's figure.

Meanwhile figures obtained by UTV from all five of Northern Ireland's trust suggest an average increase of around 50% in energy costs. Costs for street lights, schools and health services are just some of the real life consequences rising energy prices are having.

The warnings, however, were in place. Before the end of his tenure as Finance Minister, Conor Murphy warned that the Stormont Budget was facing a £660m overspend - with a significant chunk of that caused by energy costs.

A new financial report from Northern Ireland's Fiscal Council confirms the budgetary pressures facing departments, adding that weak budget management and the lack of a functioning executive is making the situation worse.

With no executive in place, the responsibility for setting a budget and balancing the books lies with the secretary of state.

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