Environmental projects set to benefit from scheme

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Environmental projects across Northern Ireland are set to benefit from millions of pounds thanks to the latest round of funding from the carrier bag levy.

Strategic schemes that protect and enhance our habitats, health, wellbeing and water quality can benefit from DAERA’s Environment Fund which opens for pre-applications today, 6 June 2018.

David Small, DAERA’s Head of Environment, Marine and Fisheries Group, invited not-for-profit groups and local councils to submit their applications for 2019/2022 funding. “The Environment Fund is a very important source of funding that helps the Department support strategic environmental projects to safeguard, develop and enrich our prized landscapes and environment.

“Over the past three years, approximately £2.6million funding per annum has brought in £2.5million in match funding, £4million in volunteer time and 50,000 days of environmental activity. This funding supports 37 organisations and the equivalent of 78 full-time jobs,” he added.

“Projects must be strategic and delivered at a province-wide or sub-regional scale, or on DAERA-owned sites. They should address our key themes including species monitoring, securing habitat quality, raising awareness of good practice, encouraging change in environmental action by society, and facilities for enjoying our beautiful countryside.”

Mr Small encouraged groups to be creative in their applications. “We want to encourage applicants to maximise the potential for cost efficiency by seeking new and innovative delivery coalitions or partnerships.”

An information event will be held on 15 June at Crawfordsburn Country Park where potential applicants can get more information on the scheme.

The closing date for pre-applications is 23 July 2018.

Craig McGuicken, Chief Executive of Northern Ireland Environment Link which currently benefits from the fund, welcomed the call for applications.

“The Environment Fund has been crucial in delivering a wide range of environmental benefits to wildlife and people across Northern Ireland. It is an essential support mechanism for the environment sector and has helped raise awareness of, and protection for, our natural heritage.

“In a time of ongoing funding pressures this support will be increasingly important, and it is crucial that the carrier-bag levy continues to be directed towards important environmental projects,” added Mr McGuicken.

Among the initiatives currently in receipt of funding are projects to recruit and train volunteers for large scale bird monitoring surveys; carry out habitat and species conservation activities; maintain and promote walking routes; and encourage recycling.

The aim of the carrier bag levy is to reduce the number of bags in circulation, help the environment by reducing the amount of plastic and paper going to landfill and help councils save money in landfill tax. Since the introduction of the levy approximately 1 billion single use carrier bags have been taken out of circulation enabling Northern Ireland to become both cleaner and greener and a better place to live and do business.

For more details of the scheme visit the DAERA website Grants and Funding section: https://www.daera-ni.gov.uk/articles/environment-fund.