Poots announces £2.2million for environmental projects from carrier bag levy money

Date published: 25 February 2020

Environment Minister Edwin Poots today announced that 24 environmental projects across NI will share £2.2million of monies generated by the carrier bag levy.

Environment Minister Edwin Poots MLA is pictured with Chris Sturgeon from RSPB NI as he announces £2.2m fund generated from carrier bag levy money.

The Environment Fund 2020/21 uses the proceeds of the carrier bag levy (introduced in April 2013) to enable not-for-profit organisations and councils to deliver key environmental outcomes across Northern Ireland.

The Minster made the announcement today at Belfast’s Window on Wildlife, which has received funding that contributes to the allocation of wardens at RSPB reserves across Northern Ireland, who help create the right conditions for birds to nest, breed and raise their young. The Minister said: “I am pleased to announce this significant funding, derived from the carrier bag levy, which will enable organisations to continue to protect our landscape, habitats and species and promote health and well-being so that we can all enjoy our natural environment.

“Prior to the carrier bag levy being introduced in 2013, 300 million single use bags were used each year in Northern Ireland, filling up landfill, suffocating our seas and damaging our habitats and wildlife.

“The £2.2million generated from the levy will help socially-conscious organisations protect and enhance our environment and showcases my Department’s commitment to find innovative and simple solutions that have big benefits. I want to see even more practical measures that will make a real difference and ensure we leave our environment in an even better shape than we found it.”

The Minister continued: “This initiative reflects the New Decade, New Approach agreement where my Executive colleagues and I have pledged to eliminate plastic pollution and drive through a range of measures to protect the environment. I intend to work closely with the Executive and with other UK Ministers to co-ordinate our approach to unnecessary plastic and deliver the maximum benefit across the UK.”

A total of 24 organisations will receive grants for their projects which range from £6,746 to £257,468.

Among the initiatives to be funded are projects to recruit and train volunteers for large scale bird monitoring surveys; carry out habitat and species conservation activities; maintain and promote long-distance walking routes and encourage recycling.

Minister Poots concluded: “The aim of the carrier bag levy is to not only reduce the number of carrier bags in circulation but also to reduce the amount of plastic and paper going to landfill, help the environment and save money for local councils in landfill tax. People across Northern Ireland have also embraced the reuse and recycling of shopping bags and I know that together, we can achieve even more.”

Craig McGuicken, Chief Executive of Northern Ireland Environment Link, said: “The announcement of the Environment Fund is excellent news for everyone interested in the environment of Northern Ireland. This funding provides essential support to our environmental NGOs, helping to deliver on-the-ground action, as well as allowing for long term planning. At a time when public concern and interest in environmental matters is at a high, this is welcome news.”

Joanne Sherwood, RSPB NI Director, said: “RSPB NI is delighted to host Minister Poots at Belfast Window on Wildlife, our nature reserve in the heart of Belfast.

“We welcome the Minister’s announcement today that essential funding is being made available.

“Nature-based solutions play a crucial role in tackling the climate and nature crisis that we are all facing, and we are looking forward to continuing to work with the Minister and our partners to lead the way in safeguarding the wellbeing of future generations.”

Notes to editors: 

1.  The Environment Fund supports projects in Northern Ireland contributing to four Environmental Impact Priorities:

(i) Land, water, habitats, species and earth science managed to meet national, EU and International commitments and draft Programme for Government requirements. This is set out into three tiers:

Tier 1:

a) Developing and delivering management measures which significantly contribute to the achievement of:

  • Increasing the percentage of protected area under favourable management;
  • Increasing the number of inland waterbodies, transitional, coastal and Bathing Waters reaching ‘good status’ under the Water Framework Directive.

b) Delivery of management and monitoring measures to support the national and international protection of the Giant’s Causeway and Causeway Coast World Heritage Site.

Tier 2:

a) Developing and delivering management measures which significantly contribute to the achievement of:

  • Maintaining the percentage of protected area under favourable management;

b) Strategic and sustainable environmental management of other areas at a sub-regional scale where there exists a regional or sub-regional scale action plan and/or strategic approach to achieve significant environmental outcomes;

c) Developing and delivering actions to address habitat fragmentation for freshwater priority species on a catchment scale

Tier 3:

a) Significant local scale sustainable positive environmental management within the context of a regional, sub-regional plan and/or strategic approach to achieve priority environmental outcomes.

(ii) Delivery of essential evidence and coordination that underpins decision making and action across any of the environmental priorities, including:

a) Monitoring and reporting of change in status and production of statistically reliable long term surveillance indices/data;

b) Strategic assessment of the impact of interventions;

c) Broad scale scenario planning, horizon scanning and policy analysis;

d) Provision of expert advice, including expert advice to the Department;

e) Outdoor recreation mapping, assessment of demand and value;

f) Collection and analysis of essential new data/information including reviews of existing data/information.

g) NI-wide coordination of information, knowledge, resource and funding opportunities.

Research & Development is excluded except where this is an integral part of the wider project.

(iii) Implementation of actions that are essential to delivery of the Department’s strategic outdoor recreation priorities, to increase sustainable public enjoyment and understanding of land and seascapes including:

a) Delivery of core path networks and strategic routes, primarily in partnership with councils;

b) Promotion of environmental responsibility and good practice;

c) Projects on NIEA sites, particularly for those for whom access is currently difficult.

(iv) Delivery of Northern Ireland wide projects and/or coordination of strategic environmental engagement on behalf of a wide variety of stakeholders, to improve local environmental quality and result in good environmental practice and civic action becoming an intrinsic part of school and community life.

2.  The list of organisations being funded is as follows:

  • Armagh City Banbridge and Craigavon BC - To maintain a Marsh Fritillary site with the removal of scrub and rush from the existing grassland habitat.
  • Ballinderry Rivers Trust (BRT) - This project will deliver key catchment-scale, actions, identified in the draft Ballinderry River SAC/ASSI Protected Area Conservation Management Plan that will increase the percentage of SAC under favourable conservation management; as well as addressing Water Framework Directive (WFD) single failing elements in selected sub-catchments of the SAC.
  • Bat Conservation Ireland (BCI) - The Irish Bat Monitoring Programme is an All-Ireland bat monitoring scheme that contains four separate surveys, two of which are in operation in Northern Ireland since 2006.
  • Belfast Hills Partnership (BHP) - The project entails the maintenance and development of the Belfast Hills Partnership (BHP) as an integrated management partnership for the Belfast Hills.
  • Beltrim Charitable Trust - Altarichard nature and wildlife project.
  • British Trust for Ornithology (BTO) - To deliver essential evidence that underpins environmental priority decision making in NI, most particularly by sustaining the large scale bird monitoring surveys that are managed by the BTO (most in partnership with others), in both the marine and terrestrial environments on a NI-wide scale.
  • Buglife - To deliver on a number of themes supporting DAERA in meeting its priorities and building on the capacity of Buglife and others to deliver invertebrate conservation in Northern Ireland.
  • Butterfly Conservation - To halt the decline of butterflies and moths through targeted conservation action underpinned by robust scientific evidence.
  • Causeway Coast and Glens Heritage Trust (CCGHT) - The project will deliver national, regional and international commitments relating to the on-going management of the Giant's Causeway and Causeway Coast WHS and the 3 AONBs in the Causeway Coast and Glens area.
  • Centre of Environmental Data & Recording (CEDaR) - To deliver a strong evidence base to address statutory obligations within surveillance. Building on previous funding, the Surveillance Officer will develop further key partnerships and networking opportunities to determine future priorities.
  • Irish Brent Goose Research Group - To provide an understanding of the movements of waterbird species within up to six sites priority sites and nearby terrestrial habitats and/or connection to other estuarine sites.
  • Keep NI Beautiful (KNIB) - To inspire people across Northern Ireland to create cleaner, greener, more sustainable & healthy communities through environmental action & behaviour change.
  • Lagan Valley Regional Park - Pollinator projects in meadow and grassland with continued management for wildflowers to support pollinators and birds (supporting Belfast Urban Fringe for Environmental Resilience).
  • Lough Neagh Partnership (LNP) - To co-ordinate and implement three main projects to improve the favourable status of Lough Neagh SPA and ASSI.
  • Mourne Heritage Trust (MHT) - The continued provision of a full range of conservation, environmental and visitor management functions for the Mourne AONB, including the ASSIs, SACs and SPAs.
  • National Trust - This project will enable the implementation of the conservation action plans produced for NT properties within the Strangford Lough SAC/SPA/ASSI and Outer Ards SPA/ASSI.
  • Newry Mourne and Down DC - To implement measurable key environmental outcomes identified and detailed in the various designated sites Management Action Plans (MAPs).
  • NI Environment Link (NIEL) - To enable NIEL to develop its networking, facilitation & co-ordination of eNGOs responsible for the management, protection & promotion of the environment.
  • NI Raptor Study Group (NIRSG) - Data collection, collation, standardisation, analysis & delivery of essential evidence that underpins decision making, management & statutory responsibilities, to protect Northern Ireland's birds of prey.
  • Outdoor Recreation NI (ORNI) - This project involves the delivery of specific actions that will assist in the delivery of NIEA's strategic outdoor recreation objectives contained within the ORAP (2014) and the Access to the Countryside Order (1984).
  • RSPB - Ongoing management and monitoring of our designated sites across NI and strategic environmental engagement with communities for sustainable action.
  • The Conservation Volunteers (TCV) - To support practical habitat management work on a number of sites TCV are currently involved in and work on several new sites. The network of sites are spread across the north cost, with some other sites in County Tyrone and shore of Lough Neagh.
  • Ulster Wildlife - The project has four strands of activity to deliver significant environmental net gain across designated sites, Priority Habitats and Priority Species.
  • Woodland Trust - Focus on ancient / long established woodland perhaps our most diverse terrestrial habitat which faces extreme pressures due to fragmentation and colonisation by non-natives and invasive species.

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4. All media queries should be directed to the DAERA Press Office on 028 9052 4619 or via email to pressoffice.group@daera-ni.gov.uk. Out of office hours, please contact the duty press officer on 028 9037 8110.

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