Community Groups In Down Funded For Environmental Projects

Over 30 community groups are to receive ‘challenge funding’ for environmental projects says Environment Minister Mark H  Durkan.

Minister Durkan today announced that 33 community groups will share £211,549 from the DOE’s Challenge Fund for environmental projects and five of these groups are in County Down.

In June the Minister invited community groups and schools to apply for funding for projects which would give their local environment a boost.

The Challenge Fund still remains open for schools. The closing date for schools to apply is 25 September 2015.

[caption id="attachment_58408" align="alignright" width="300"]A group in South Armagh and Cooley has been funded to promote the population of pine martens in the area. A group in South Armagh and Cooley has been funded to promote the population of pine martens in the area.[/caption]

The projects cover every aspect of the environment from red squirrel and pine marten protection in Newry, beach cleans in Kilkeel to river restoration in Fermanagh and community allotments and woodland management in Derry.

Announcing the successful applicants which has benefitted from Challenge Funding, Minister Durkan said: “It is heart warming to see so many people in our community coming together to produce innovative schemes to enhance their local environment. I commend them for it. It is fitting that 33 community group projects will get a leg up from Government. I pledged that money raised from our 5p levy on carrier bags would be ploughed back into the environment . The Challenge Fund is one way of doing that.

“This project I am visiting today, the Built Heritage Architectural Project in Derry, which celebrates and promotes access to our rich architectural heritage in Derry, is a great example of the Challenge Fund at work and will help educate and inform many future generations about Derry’s historic buildings. People from the community, working freely for the benefit of the community. That is what Challenge Fund is all about.”

Referring specifically to funding available for schools, the Minister continued: “It is important that young people in particular have the chance to see their creative ideas for enhancing our environment become reality. Part of the Challenge Fund is allocated only to schools. The closing date for applications from schools is 25 September 2015. I encourage schools to get their entries in if they haven’t already done so.”

The organisations which will benefit from funding in County Down are:

St John’s Drumnaquoile GAC – Castlewellan which received £8,000. They aim to set up  St John’s Drumnaquoile Community Allotment Gardens and transform waste ground into an area of allotments and vegetable gardens for use by all in the local community.

Ballyholland Sunshine Club – Newry received  £6,800 to bring the Past to Life. This Intergenerational project with substantial volunteer involvement and a strong partnership with the Conservation Volunteers to increase biodiversity, pass on skills to the next generation whilst transforming a disused piece of land at the GAA club, which is used by all the community.

The Harmony Community Trust near Strangford also received  £7,970 for their programme, Environmental Learning For Fun There will be five work-study weekends with at least 48 disadvantaged teenagers and 12 volunteers from urban areas being engaged in practical environmental work at Glebe House, Strangford. The teenagers and volunteers will come from community groups in Belfast, Newry Mourne and Down and Ards.

Ring of Gullion and Cooley’s Red squirrel group in Newry received  £5,841 for the South Armagh pine marten den box scheme A project to encourage pine marten numbers in the area by erection of artificial pine marten dens in the area as natural alternatives are scarce in South Armagh. The project will also raise awaremess by holding education and awareness events at schools and local community events and by installing web cameras on den boxes. It involves partnership with QUB and strong volunteer engagement.

Kilkeel Development Association in Kilkeel received  £3,985 for their Big Beach Crusade. There are many beaches in the local Kilkeel area and this project aims to educate the community about the seashore ecosystem and to get 400 children actively involved in the conservation of local beaches.