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Environment funding for Gullion and Mournes announced

The Ring of Gullion AONB and the Mourne Heritage Trust are set to benefit from the newly created Natural Environment Fund (NEF). Department of Environment (DOE) Minister Mark Durkan announced on the 23rd June 2015 that the Council will receive £49k for the Ring of Gullion AONB from the NEF created after a backsplash sparked by Northern Ireland Environment Agency (NIEA) funding cuts made earlier this year – whilst Mourne Heritage Trust will receive £149k. The NEF fund which totals £1.25m aims to enable NGOs and landscape management bodies to help protect our landscape, species and access to the countryside and was and was set up from receipts from the Carrier Bag Levy, after the ‘acute economic situation’ that had left no funding in the DOE budget for the sector. Minister Mark Durkan has said that as a result of ‘tough economic times’ he was faced with the situation of wanting to help the sector, ‘especially given the sterling with the work they do for our countryside and species, but having no money in the kitty to do so.’ “Against this backdrop and imaginative use of receipts  from the Carrier Bag Levy, I created NEF. The NGOs and landscape management bodies have been very much part of the process of establishing the NEF. Last month I set up a workshop with NGOs to get feedback from them on how we can maximize the fund.” He commended the Ring of Gullion AONB and the Mourne Heritage Trust  for their work to date adding that they looked forward to their continuing work in their respective areas. “My officials will organize further workshops with key natural and built heritage partners in the summer and autumn to discuss how we can continue to deliver against key environmental outcomes which will include protecting our landscapes, habitats and species and providing those opportunities for each of us to explore, enjoy and cherish our environment in the North,” he said. Martin Carey CEO of the Mourne Heritage Trust said the award of funding to keep their activities ‘sustained for the rest of the financial year’ was a big relief and ‘provides at least short term stability from which to build.’ “We have had a number of positive engagements with the Minister of the Environment and his officials in recent weeks and accordingly we are optimistic that a means could be found to sustain management services for the Mourne Area of Outstanding Beauty through the new Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DEARA) that is to be established in 2016,” he said.


24th June 2015

Newry Reporter