Carrier Bag Tax Raises £2.2m

Some 24 environmental projects are to share in £2.2 million raised through the plastic bag levy.

The tax, introduced in April 2013, places a five pence charge on every carrier bag sold.

These funds have culminated in the multi-million pound boost for local environmental projects, Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs Minister Edwin Poots has announced.

The Environment Fund 2020/21 will enable not-for-profit schemes to help deliver key targets across the region, with grants ranging from £6,000 to £257,000.

Among these are projects to recruit and train volunteers for large scale bird monitoring surveys and to carry out habitat and species conservation activities. It will also contribute to the maintainence of long-distance walking routes and encouraging recycling among members of the public.

Minister Poots made the announcement at Belfast's Window on Wildlife, which received funding towards the allocation of wardens at local RSPB reserves to foster the correct conditions for birds to nest, breed and raise their young.

It's hoped the £2.2m will enable organisations to continue protecting local species, habitats and landscapes.

"Prior to the carrier bag levy being introduced in 2013, 300 million single use bags were used each year in Northern Ireland, filling up landfill, suffocating our seas and damaging our habitats and wildlife," the DUP MLA said.
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"The £2.2million generated from the levy will help socially-conscious organisations protect and enhance our environment and showcases my Department's commitment to find innovative and simple solutions that have big benefits. I want to see even more practical measures that will make a real difference and ensure we leave our environment in an even better shape than we found it.

"The aim of the carrier bag levy is to not only reduce the number of carrier bags in circulation but also to reduce the amount of plastic and paper going to landfill, help the environment and save money for local councils in landfill tax. People across Northern Ireland have also embraced the reuse and recycling of shopping bags and I know that together, we can achieve even more."

Chief Executive of Northern Ireland Environment Link, Craig McGuicken welcomed the news, saying: "The announcement of the Environment Fund is excellent news for everyone interested in the environment of Northern Ireland. This funding provides essential support to our environmental NGOs, helping to deliver on-the-ground action, as well as allowing for long term planning. At a time when public concern and interest in environmental matters is at a high, this is welcome news."

Joanne Sherwood, RSPB NI Director, added: "We welcome the Minister's announcement today that essential funding is being made available.

"Nature-based solutions play a crucial role in tackling the climate and nature crisis that we are all facing, and we are looking forward to continuing to work with the Minister and our partners to lead the way in safeguarding the wellbeing of future generations."


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