The Lagan Valley Regional Park, which runs along the river from Belfast to Lisburn is set to receive a major boost which has been widely welcomed.
Environment Minister Mark H Durkan has announced this week that theRegional Park will benefit from funding from the DOE’s Natural Environment Fund (NEF).
It will receive £25,000 from the NEF.
The £1.25million NEF fund will enable NGOs and landscape management bodies to help protect the landscape, species and access to the countryside.
Minister Durkan said that, given the acute economic situation he faced, there was no money in the Department’s budget for this sector.
Minister Durkan said he was, however, able to set up the NEF from receipts from the Carrier Bag Levy.
Mr. Durkan said: “There is no doubt that these are tough economic times.
“As a result I was faced with the situation of wanting to help this sector, especially given the sterling work they do for our countryside and species, but having no money in the kitty to do so.
“Against this backdrop and through imaginative use of receipts from the Carrier Bag levy, I created the NEF.
“Lagan Valley Regional Park is one of 21 NGOs and landscape management bodies who will benefit.
“I commend them for their work to date and I look forward to their continuing work for Lagan Valley.
“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 could maximise the fund.
“My officials will organise further workshops with key natural and built heritage partners in the summer and autumn.
“These will discuss how to we can all 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.”