#LoveMourne campaign bears fruit in funding offer from NIEA


Mourne Heritage Trust’s recent #LoveMourne campaign has succeeded in relieving, for the time being, the resourcing crisis affecting the Trust and other environmental management bodies.  An offer of funding has been received for the period 1st July to 31st March from the Natural Environment Fund, established by Minister Mark H Durkan to distribute monies from the Carrier Bag Levy to groups affected by the termination - announced in March of this year - of their previous funding arrangements

Martin Carey, Chief Executive of the Trust explained ‘The award of funding to keep our activities sustained for the rest of the financial year is a huge relief and provides at least short term stability from which to build. We have had a number of positive engagements with the Minister for the Environment and his officials in recent weeks. and accordingly we are optimistic that a means can be found to further sustain management services for the Mourne Area of Outstanding Beauty through the new Department for Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DEARA) that is to be established in 2016’.

Mr Carey however cautioned that the Trust’s ability to keep pace with the management needs in the Mournes would be tested in the new funding context. ‘In addition to the uncertainty over long term arrangements continuing to impact on our ability to plan, funding for the current financial year is still reduced by over 10% across the various sources at a time when interest in and pressure on the Mourne landscape is continuously growing.  The process of having NIEA funding restored has seen lobbying activities and entirely new funding applications consume significant staff time, leaving something of backlog of work in some areas. So we ask people to bear with us as we strive to maintain and enhance the levels of service they have been used to’.

Trust Chairman, Mr Desmond Patterson, thanked all those who had expressed support for the Trust saying ‘We have been overwhelmed by the demonstrations of how people value the Mourne landscape and heritage and the work the Trust does to care for it. Our online petition has reached almost one and a half thousand signatures and the comments that accompany these show that this is not just token support. We have also had sterling support from our local elected representatives across the political spectrum and from Newry, Mourne and Down District Council.  But most of all I wish to thank our loyal staff who, through a period of over six months in which their careers and livelihoods were thrown into uncertainty, have not only stuck with us but stuck to their task and delivered our day to day services and projects.  Their dedication deserves the support that we have seen and I hope we can maintain the funds to ensure that their expertise and energy continues to be brought to good effect in Caring for Mourne’.