Environment Minister Mark H Durkan today announced an Environment Fund (EF) for applications from eligible Not for Profit organisations and councils.
This fund will enable eligible organisations to continue to protect our landscape, habitats and species. It will promote health, well-being, resource efficiency and sustainable economic development so that we can all enjoy the full value of our environment.
Mark H Durkan said: “This grant programme will help tackle the most acute environmental priorities facing us in the North. It will go directly to projects that protect and improve the environment that we and future generations live in. It will reduce marine litter, galvanise volunteer effort, improve air quality, deliver on the Biodiversity Strategy and provide outdoor recreation opportunities for us to enjoy our environment. This is an expansion of the range of projects that were funded under the previous Natural Environment Fund.
“I am well aware of the very difficult financial position faced by a range of environmental groups across the North. I vowed to try and alleviate some of that pain as imaginatively as possible. I allocated £1.2 million this year but we need to get away from this hand to mouth existence and work in partnership to help the environmental Third Sector move to a more sustainable funding mechanism.
“These groups need certainty that they can continue to deliver their key role in protecting and enhancing our environment which is why I have put this funding mechanism in place. Whilst I am not yet in a position to announce how much funding that they can apply for, this sets down that there will be a level of funding from April 2016. Funding will be allocated for the next financial year (2016-17) with the potential for funding in future years subject to future budget decisions by the Northern Ireland Executive and Assembly.”
Craig McGuicken of Northern Ireland Environment Link said: “The voluntary environmental sector really welcomes this news. It provides some longer term security at a time when the financial difficulties of the Department and wider sector have been well documented. In spring 2015 the Minister was able to provide short-term funding support to groups, and he has now followed up on this with a longer-term commitment. It is particularly welcome of course, that the number of eligible groups has been expanded. Given the changes that are happening in central government, and the imminent creation of the new Departments, this support is extremely important.”
Mark H Durkan continued: “In these austere times I need to see every penny of money allocated spent wisely. This process will be competitive with value for money and delivery of critical environmental priorities being key criteria. Co-operation among groups will play a big part. I want to see them join forces and combine their skills when applying.
“I encourage eligible groups to consider how we can make best use of the funding available for our environment when the Fund officially opens on Thursday 12 November.”