Belfast Telegraph

Green groups in cuts plea to Environment Minister Mark H Durkan

By Linda Stewart

Green groups have urged Environment Minister Mark H Durkan to work with them to offset the impact of massive planned cuts to his budget.

The draft budget proposes cutting one third of the Department of the Environment workforce, along with cuts to grants to wildlife groups that carry out work on its behalf. The 11% budget cut is the highest of any department.

The RSPB has warned the proposed cuts will have a disastrous effect on wildlife, public health and the local economy.

Meanwhile, we could lose threatened species such as the salmon, lapwing and Irish damselfly, and health benefits provided by green space could be lost.

The RSPB said proposed cuts to grants could compromise its management of 2,636 acres which is home to breeding waders, terns, wintering waterbirds, and rare species such as chough, curlew, Irish whitebeam and red squirrel.

It would also threaten out-of-classroom learning for 15,000 children. The group urged Mr Durkan to work with environment groups to come up with solutions to mitigating the impact.

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