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Minister for Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs, Edwin Poots MLA has launched a Call for Evidence on a plan to eliminate plastic pollution in Northern Ireland and a new grants scheme aimed at tackling marine litter.

The Call for Evidence will seek responses from a wide range of stakeholders on the challenges and opportunities that exist in eliminating plastic pollution, as well as seeking examples of best practice and sources of expertise or evidence.

In addition to this, a new grants scheme has been set up making £175,000 available in 2021/22 for organisations and groups to avail of. The aim of the scheme is to help prevent marine litter entering our environment as well as removing this litter from coastal and riverine areas. This will help protect our waterways and marine areas, as well as improving marine biodiversity and the health and wellbeing of our communities.

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

Minister 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 Minister continued, “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.”

Minister Poots concluded, “I am also pleased to announce today the launch of a new £175,000 grants scheme to tackle marine litter. This 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.”

Ian Humphreys, CEO of 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 public Call for Evidence opens on 28th June 2021 and will run for a 14 week period until 5pm on 1st October 2021

The Tackling Marine Litter Grants Scheme opens for applications on 30th June 2021. For further information please visit the Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful website.