Environment Minister Michelle McIlveen has allocated £2.6million to environmental projects across Northern Ireland.
The Minster said: “I am pleased to announce this funding for 2017/18 which is taken from the revenue raised by the carrier bag levy. It will be used to help projects which sustain, improve and enrich our natural environment in Northern Ireland.”
A total of 36 projects across 33 organisations have received grants of between £6,290 and £252,500 from the Environment Fund, funded through the carrier bag levy.
Among the initiatives funded are projects to recruit and train volunteers for large scale bird monitoring surveys; carry out habitat and species conservation activities; maintain and promote long-distance walking routes; and encourage recycling.
The Minister added: “The aim of the carrier bag levy is to reduce the number of carrier bags in circulation, thereby reducing waste. I am pleased that the most recent statistics show that the people of Northern Ireland have embraced the reuse and recycling of shopping bags.
“This significantly reduces the amount of plastic and paper going to landfill which not only helps the environment, but also saves money for local councils in landfill tax.
“By also using the money raised to fund environmental projects we are maximising the positive impact of the carrier bag levy.”
The Environment Fund is one of the mechanisms through which the proceeds of the carrier bag levy have been used to enable not-for-profit organisations and councils to deliver key environmental priorities across Northern Ireland.
Earlier this year, the Minister announced that £400,000 in a separate funding stream sourced from the carrier bag levy will be available for the Challenge Fund. It was aimed at not-for-profit organisations delivering projects which aim to improve the local environment and boost civic pride.