Belfast Telegraph

Lifeline for environmental groups

Struggling environmental groups have been thrown a lifeline by Northern Ireland's Environment Minister.

Mark H Durkan said £4.2 million raised through the carrier bag levy would be used to ease the pain of organisations whose funding was cut in the Stormont budget.

He said: " My department has suffered a higher percentage of cuts than any other department. I am therefore determined to ensure the carrier bag levy money will be used to best effect."

Mr Durkan was speaking during Question Time at the Assembly.

The estimated net income for 2015/16 is £4.2 million, he said.

Around £2.15 million has been allocated for environmental grant schemes; £520,000 has been set aside for a natural heritage grants fund and £600,000 will go towards a community waste fund.

There will also be a £300,000 contribution for local clean-up and air quality grants scheme.

Funding for groups tackling acute priorities such as safeguarding valuable sites and landscapes; protecting species and encouraging access to the countryside is to be increased to £1.25 million.

Of the £800,000 unallocated levy money, £300,000 is being used to set up a Challenge Fund that can be accessed by schools and community groups while £300,000 will go towards listed buildings projects.

Earlier this year Mr Durkan was told to reduce his spending by £12.4 million - almost 11% - during the next 12 months.

SDLP MLA Alban Maginness said the budget allocation had been "brutal".

Your Comments

COMMENT RULES: Comments that are judged to be defamatory, abusive or in bad taste are not acceptable and contributors who consistently fall below certain criteria will be permanently blacklisted. The moderator will not enter into debate with individual contributors and the moderator’s decision is final. It is Belfast Telegraph policy to close comments on court cases, tribunals and active legal investigations. We may also close comments on articles which are being targeted for abuse. Problems with commenting?


From Belfast Telegraph