Environmental Challenge Fund – Water Quality Improvement Strand

An additional strand of the Environmental Challenge Competition has been launched with a closing date for applications on noon of the 28th June 2021.

This is a grant competition known as the Water Quality Improvement Strand of the Environment Fund and seeks to support projects that help people connect with and seek improvements to their local aquatic environment. The key areas for funding under the Water Quality Improvement strand are:

Conservation and Restoration of our Aquatic environments:

  • Creation or restoration of aquatic, coastal or marine habitat
  • Creation of blue and green spaces
  • Recovery of threatened aquatic and marine species
  • Tackling invasive non-native species
  • Preventing, removing or cleaning up pollution
  • Environmental surveying and monitoring
  • The development of restoration plans

Nature-based solutions, particularly for climate change mitigation and adaptation

  • Peatland, and other wetland, restoration
  • Natural flood management
  • Creating, enhancing or connecting blue and green infrastructure
  • River or waterway bank stabilization and in-stream improvements
  • Riparian tree planting

Connecting people with the aquatic environment

  1. Volunteering, including the establishment of new local groups or greater public involvement within existing groups.
  2. Community engagement and citizen science for aquatic / marine conservation and improvement.
  3. Engaging and empowering the community to support to increase understanding of the water environment or develop citizen science skills, such as species identification or water quality monitoring
  4. Local Pollution Prevention campaigns



  • The Terms and Conditions of grant for the Environment Fund can be found here https://www.daera-ni.gov.uk/publications/ef-indicative-standard-conditions-offer  along with the Environment Fund Guidance Notes to help you to complete the questions in the Application Form.
  • Payment of grant will be in arrears unless there are exceptional circumstances requiring a degree of payment upfront. 
  • The creation of buildings are not eligible.

How to apply for the Environmental Challenge Competition – Water Quality Improvement Strand 2021/22

Further information, including guidance notes and details of how you can apply for funding, can be found on the DAERA website at https://www.daera-ni.gov.uk/articles/environment-fund

The following documents are available to download on this website:

Please read the Guidance notes and the strategic priorities thoroughly to decide if the Water Quality Improvement strand of the Environment Fund is suitable for your project.

3. Read the indicative EF Standard Conditions of Offer which outline many of the conditions you will need to comply with if you are awarded funding. You will need to consider the actions you will need to undertake to deliver these and any associated costs as part of your application;

4. Discuss your project proposal with your NIEA Catchment Officer. Contact details can be provided by Catchment Team staff who can be contacted by email RiverBasinPlanning@daera-ni.gov.uk

5. Complete the EF Challenge Competition Water Quality Improvement 2021/22 Application Form referring to the Guidance Notes.

6. Submit the application form to RiverBasinPlanning@daera-ni.gov.uk by noon on the 28th June 2021

7. DAERA reserves the right to make an offer of funding that is different from the details or financial amounts that are set out in the applications.

How much can we offer?

The Water Quality Improvement strand of the Environment Fund budget is limited.

For the 2021/22 Environmental Challenge Competition the minimum overall project cost is £5,000. The maximum grant awarded will be £30,000, except in exceptional circumstances. The maximum amount of Government funding available under the competition will be 85% of eligible project costs.

Payment of grant will be in arrears unless there are exceptional circumstances requiring a degree of payment upfront. 

Applications may be refused or offered a lower level of funding if there is insufficient budget or there are concerns about value for money or risks in delivering the outputs.

Back to top