Challenge Fund 2015 benefits environment

Environment Minister Mark H Durkan is urging local communities and organisations to apply for carrier bag levy funding through the Challenge Fund 2015.

Mr Durkan has committed £1.3 million from carrier bay levy receipts to the Challenge Fund 2015 in support of local community environmental projects.

The Challenge Fund enables communities and organisation across Northern Ireland to undertake new projects that build an environment that is essential for wellbeing and prosperity.

Last year’s Challenge Fund, the first to be funded from bag levy receipts, enabled local people to deliver over 250 environmental projects.

Calling for people to take up this year’s challenge, Mr Durkan said: “The fantastic response from shoppers and retailers to the carrier bag levy has led to a massive 72 per cent decrease in ‘single use’ carrier bags and I am determined that the monies raised through the levy goes back to the community.

“The community pays the levy and I am ensuring that the community gets the benefit of it. I see this as the ‘People’s Fund’.

“Applications for assistance from this year’s fund close on Friday 3 October and I would urge local groups and organisations not to miss the deadline.

“Get inspired, be it developing community gardens, removing invasive species, or restoring local habitats or community renewable energy schemes, to name but a few.

“I would urge groups across the North to continue to undertake projects that benefit their local environment and communities.”

A Challenge Fund 2015 application pack is available on the NIEL website http://www.nienvironmentlink.org. Applications from eligible groups are invited to the NGO Challenge Fund and must be submitted to challengefund@nienvironmentlink.org by noon on Friday October 3. Successful projects will be announced in late October or early November 2014.