Northern Ireland news

Edwin Poots launches initiatives aimed at eliminating plastic pollution and tackling marine litter

Edwin Poots with Conal Murphy from Mill Strand Integrated Primary. Picture by Aaron McCracken/ DAERA

AGRICULTURE minister Edwin Poots yesterday launched two initiatives aimed at eliminating plastic pollution and tackling marine litter.

The DUP minister said "we need to take strong action" to improve the environment in Northern Ireland.

Mr Poots unveiled a 'call for evidence' to gather responses on the challenges and opportunities to eliminate plastic pollution.

A NEW £175,000 grants scheme to tackle marine litter was also launched.

It aims to help prevent marine litter entering the environment as well as removing it from coastal and riverine areas.

It is hoped the scheme will help protect the north's waterways and marine areas, as well as improving marine biodiversity and the health and wellbeing of communities.

The scheme, funded by DAERA and administered by Live Here Love Here, will run for a further three years with up to £675,000 available by 2025.

Mr Poots said: "Plastic pollution is a scourge on our environment and has become one of our most pressing environmental challenges.

"I believe we need to take strong action and address the throwaway culture that exists around plastic and the pollution that comes from this.

"The New Decade, New Approach agreement contains a commitment by the executive to develop a plan to eliminate plastic pollution and this call for evidence and subsequent development of my department's plan will deliver on this commitment.

"This will assist Northern Ireland's contribution to the UK's net zero target and will help the shift to a circular economy by keeping plastic in the economy and out of the environment."

The minister also said the £175,000 grants scheme will "help to facilitate the prevention and removal of this type of litter which is entering our environment, polluting our rivers and seas".

"By working together we can tackle the scourge of plastic pollution, thereby making Northern Ireland a cleaner, greener environment to live in," he said.

Ian Humphreys from Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful added: "The pernicious effects of litter, particularly plastics, on marine animals is now well understood.

"With plastics moving up through the marine food chain the consequences for us may end up equally harmful.

"So this timely grants programme, funded by DAERA and delivered through the Live Here Love Here collaboration, will ensure Northern Ireland can play its part in eliminating marine litter pollution.

"I would encourage all eligible organisations to make use of this fantastic opportunity to help people do the right thing and put litter in a bin."

The call for evidence runs until October 1 and the grant scheme is now open.

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