Half a million pounds is to be pumped into almost 30 local environmental projects thanks to money raised by the plastic bag charge, Environment Minister Michelle McIlveen has announced.
It brings the total distributed to almost 40 projects by the Environmental Fund (EF) to over £3million this year alone.
“I am delighted we are able to support and encourage more organisations and projects as they work to develop and enhance our environment such as the protection of native habitats and their wildlife” Minister McIlveen said during a meeting with many of the environmental groups.
“This additional £500,000 will go to a wide range of projects carrying out important work such as tackling marine and coastal litter, boosting the red squirrel population and promoting recycling” the Minister added.
Of the 37 organisations including Keep NI Beautiful, the RSPB and National Trust that have already benefited from EF funding this year, 19 will now receive this additional cash boost with nine new projects also benefiting from the scheme.
During her meeting with a large and wide range of environmental groups at Crawfordsburn Country Park, the Minister also announced she is planning to open the new Environmental Farming Scheme in early 2017.
“The multi-million pound Environmental Farming Scheme is an important part of our agricultural agenda and we are working hard to be able to open it for applications in February next year. Whilst funding for the EFS is not covered by the recent statement by Chancellor Philip Hammond, we are very much focused on securing the funding and implementing a well-focused scheme” Minister McIlveen explained.
The Minister also listened to the concerns the environmental groups had about future funding for the sector, the impact of Brexit and the difficult financial situation many are facing.
“The environmental sector, like DAERA, knows that challenging financial times are ahead. We all need to continue to look closely at what we do, and how we do it, to ensure we deliver efficiencies in the way we work, enhance partnership working and seek alternative sources of funding.
“Our environmental sector makes genuine positive differences across Northern Ireland to our rural and urban landscape and communities. They deliver much needed environmental improvements, education and support many of the Executive’s Programme for Government outcomes” the Minister added.
Craig McGuicken, Chief Executive of NI Environment Link, described the Environmental Funding cash boost as good news, saying: “The sector really welcomes this extra funding that the Minister has allocated. It will help environmental organisations across Northern Ireland to deliver a wide range of activities, bringing a diversity of benefits to the public.”
Following his presentation which gave Minister McIlveen an overview of the sector, Mr McGuicken said he looked forward to working with her and DAERA in the coming months and years.
Notes to editors:
- Photo caption - Environment Minister Michelle McIlveen meets with key environmental groups in Crawfordsburn, Co Down, to announce new funding and hear what the key issues are for the sector. (Left to right) Jennifer Fulton, Ulster Wildlife, Joanne Sherwood, RSPB, Environment Minister Michelle McIlveen, Diane Ruddock, National Trust and Craig McGuicken, Chief Executive of the Northern Ireland Environmental Link.
- The Environment Fund (EF) is one of the mechanisms through which the proceeds of the Carrier Bag Levy (CBL) have been used to enable Not for Profit organisations and councils to deliver key environmental projects across Northern Ireland.
- The EF was made available to eligible organisations to protect and improve our habitats; the quality of our air and water; promote health, well being, resource efficiency; sustainable economic development and access to the natural environment. In March 2016, £2.6million from the EF was awarded to 37 organisations for the 2016/17 financial year.
- Up to £0.564million is now available, in-year, to fund this latest allocation bring the total fund up to £3.164million.
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- Keep NI Beautiful
- Business in the Community
- Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP)
- Northern Ireland Environment Link
- British Trust for Ornithology
- Raptor Study Group
- Butterfly Conservation
- Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB)
- Ulster Wildlife
- Woodland Trust
- National Trust
- ABC Borough Council
- The Conservation Volunteers
- Belfast Hills Partnership
- Newry, Mourne and Down District Council
- Causeway Coast and Glens Heritage Trust
- Outdoor Recreation NI
- Bann Valley Community Group
- Lagan Valley Regional Park
- Lough Neagh Partnership
- Northern Ireland Amenity Council
- Queen's University Belfast
- Beltrim Charitable Trust
- Field Studies Council (FSC)
- Mid Ulster District Council
- Bryson Energy
- Geological Survey Northern Ireland
- River Blackwater Catchment Trust
- Loughs Agency
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