Down Groups Received Extra Funding From Environment Minister

Environment Minister Mark H Durkan has today announced that an additional 15 community groups will receive support from the DOE’s Challenge Fund.

dn_screenThe Minister is allocating an additional £114,975 to the Challenge Fund grants programme which will enable a further 15 projects across Northern Ireland to be delivered and two are in County Down.

The DOE is now supporting 80 Challenge Fund projects in 2015/16 with over £400,000 funding from the Carrier Bag Levy. These community-based organisations had applied to the Challenge Fund in June and were being held in reserve.

The community-led projects cover a wide scope of environmental work, ranging from the development of walking trails in Strangford, a raptor education programme for the Scouts, a red squirrel viewing station in Ballycastle and a biodiversity-rich community garden in Derry.

Mark H Durkan said: “When the Challenge Fund’s ‘Community Action’ stream closed at the end of June, over 130 applications had been received. The majority of these were of an exceptionally high standard. I was truly blown away by the proposals from community groups to support their local environment. In July I was pleased to announce support for 33 of these initiatives, and more recently I announced that 32 schools would also receive support. Now I am delighted that my Department is in a position to support another 15 community groups.

“I commend all of school pupils, delivery partners and the many volunteers for their enthusiasm to roll up their sleeves and get stuck in to the protection and enhancement of our shared environment. I am looking forward to seeing the fruit of their labour in the coming months.

“Since the 5p levy on carrier bags was introduced I have ensured the very communities who pay it have experienced the benefits. The Challenge Fund is one way of doing that, whilst also delivering tangible environmental improvement on the ground at a grass-roots level.”

Strangford Community Association are to receive £8,000 towards the Kilclief and Strangford Walking and Cycling Trail. THis is a project that will improve access pathways in partnership with Outdoor Recreation NI which will link the amenities at Kilclief beach, with locals and tourists.

And Scouts NI (Strangford District) in  Newtownards are to receive £5,500 towards the delivery of a series of talks and workshops with from NI Raptor Study Group to the Strangford District of the Scouts. This will also include overnight camping expeditions and the introduction of a ‘Raptor Badge’.