Slashing the core funding of environment sector will spell disaster for the Belfast Hills

We are in need of your help to protect the Belfast Hills and other areas in need of conservation management in Northern Ireland.

Email the ministers before consultation window closes on December 29.

Email Environment Minister Mark H Durkan [email protected]

Email Finance Minister Simon Hamilton: [email protected]

 

1. We’re going to get cut!

Most environmental organisations face the hatchet with a 100% cut in NIEA funding according to the draft DOE budget.

That means that any staff funded to carry out DOE objectives faces a blanket cut in April 2015. Check out the hard facts in Paragraph 23 of the consultation document http://www.doeni.gov.uk/doe-draft-budget-2015-2016-assessment-consultation.pdf

 

We have suggested key messages that you can include in any responses to [email protected] and [email protected] but whatever you do please respond.

 

Please share with those who care.

 

2. BHP faces 100% loss of DOE funding

 

All environmental organisations face a 100% cut in NIEA funding according to the draft DOE budget. That means that any staff funded to carry out DOE objectives faces a blanket cut in April 2015. Check out the hard facts in Paragraph 23 of the consultation document http://www.doeni.gov.uk/doe-draft-budget-2015-2016-assessment-consultation.pdf

 

Please respond to [email protected] and [email protected] to get the message across that we need these organisations including Belfast Hills Partnership. Three key points we think could be made are:

  • Organisations like Belfast Hills Partnership (BHP) are great for bringing in extra resources – for every £1 DOENI gave them they got in a further £5 from local, national and European sources
  • Bluntly killing off the work BHP do therefore flies in the face of logic or optimising/maximising resources. Even a short-term removal of funding will kill off capacity and credibility that has taken years of DOENI investment to build up
  • In the last year alone BHP has engaged with:

– over 3,000 schoolchildren

– over 2,500 members of the general public through events, talks, courses, volunteers.

– 520 volunteers who alone contributed the equivalent value of £13,300 of work.

Don’t cull the environmental groups – we need them!

 


 

Stormont Finance Minister Simon Hamilton is engaged in scrooge economics that will expose huge areas of conservation management to the mercy of environmental criminals.

 

Belfast Hills Partnership manager Jim Bradley said the way in which the Minister for Finance and Personnel was delivering “indiscriminate cuts” had no logic in a year that the DOE uncovered 500,000 tonnes of illegal waste across the region.

 

“These cuts lack logic, are stupid economics and Scrooge-like mismanagement of the public purse,” he said.

 

“Illegal dumping is a major issue in the Belfast Hills that costs the taxpayer each year, but the work we do in partnership with other groups on the ground has seen a reduction in this.”

 

Mr Bradley said downgrading of the carefully created, integrated management of the Belfast Hills and other areas of natural beauty in Northern Ireland would mean squandering millions of pounds already invested in improvements, if proposed cuts to its main DOE funder go ahead.

 

Minister Hamilton has announced cutbacks across Executive departments.

 

Environment Minister Mark H Durkan has argued against a slashing of his budget, saying that after capital costs, a “wholly inadequate balance of just £1.2 million (would be) left to fund a wide range of other services and activities currently supported” by the DOE.

 

Mr Bradley said: “NIEA (Northern Ireland Environment Agency) and DOE have been judiciously investing in our services for good reason. Even a short-term removal of funding will kill off capacity and credibility in the minds of the public.

 

“Built up over recent decades, those areas would take many years and money to reinstate and recover.

 

“The degradation and criminal misuse of the environment – illegal dumping – would be clearly seen and future funds will have been wasted to re-establish status rather than advance the work already built on.”

Mr Bradley said the conservation sector had delivered better than value-for-money for communities of high deprivation in need of free, well-managed open spaces.

 

“Since 2009, every £1 allocated to us from the NI Environment Agency to carry out the work required, has been converted into £5. Therefore conservation groups in our sector are rolling over funding and delivering value for the public purse.

 

“Bluntly killing off the work we do – particularly at critical stages of invasive eradication, tree disease treatment like ash dieback – flies in the face

of logic. It is ignoring the very approach that leads to recovery from the generic conservation industries in Northern Ireland that have pledged to build capacity for the future.

 

“I call on Minister Hamilton to think very carefully of the implications of destroying the resources in our local environmental sector.”


 

BHP Consultation Response

The argument against cuts in funding