Minister invests additional £1million in local environment

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SDLP Environment Minister, Mark H Durkan, has encouraged local community groups to apply to an enhanced Challenge Fund made possible by additional revenue generated by the carrier bag levy.

The Minister announced this week that the environmental development fund would be increased with an additional £1 million.

Durkan has elected to use those additional funds to enhance community environmental projects via the Challenge Fund.

The project provides vital funding for communities and organisations to develop a number of new and inspiring local environmental projects across Northern Ireland.

SDLP Minister Durkan said: “The carrier bag levy has been a huge success. Our streets and hedgerows, our fields and parks should no longer be places strewn with discarded bags. Here in Derry, we have seen the remarkable efforts by local people to reuse their own carrier bags and now it is time for our local environment to reap the benefits.

“A massive £1 million generated from the levy will go directly to local groups seeking to make the environment a better place.”

According to Minister Durkan the investment will build on the success of last year’s grant programme:

“Last year’s Challenge Fund was a very successful programme. The innovative ideas of the 56 environmental projects, who shared a pot of £360,000 funding, produced remarkable results for the environment.

“The best way to celebrate success is to build on it and for that reason I have allocated a significant portion of the proceeds from the Carrier Bag Levy to deliver a much enhanced, bigger and wider reaching Challenge Fund than last year.

“This fund is about challenging and inspiring local communities to look at what they can do differently to improve our local environment.

“It’s about encouraging and supporting energetic partnerships between local businesses, schools, youth groups and residents; those who want to transform and shape their local environment for the better. I would urge groups in Derry to come up with projects and apply to this increased Challenge Fund.”

Application forms can be submitted until November 18.

Application and guidance notes can be downloaded from NIEL’s website at