Social Democrats TD for Wicklow, Jennifer Whitmore, has called for a significant increase in funding for environmental organisations.

She made the call after it was revealed by the Irish Environmental Network that its organisations received on average only €13,000 from the Environment Fund in the Department of Environment.

Deputy Whitmore, who is the party’s spokesperson on Climate Action and Biodiversity, has written to Ministers Eamon Ryan and Malcolm Noonan to seek increased funding and reform of the way money is provided to the sector.

Deputy Whitmore commented:

“We are living in a climate and biodiversity crisis but you wouldn’t know this if you saw how little funding environmental organisations get from the State. For example, Birdwatch Ireland only got €16,000 in 2019, while the Irish Wildlife Trust received just €15,600 in the same year.

“Despite this meagre amount, these organisations do incredible work. I can only imagine how much more they could do if sufficient resources were available to them.

“While many receive funding from other sources, State assistance is crucial to the sustainability of the environmental sector and offers much-needed certainty, especially during the Covid19 pandemic when fundraising is reduced.

“Not only is funding an issue, but the way it is provided to the sector is also a cause for concern.

“Firstly, funding coming from the Environmental Fund is unsustainable. Money generated from behavioural levies, such as the plastic tax, is unsustainable because it relies on behaviour. As behaviour improves over time, funding is reduced, therefore it is unsustainable to rely on it.

“Levies need to shift towards taxing polluting industries such as construction rather than on behaviour, which would generate much more funding and in a more sustainable manner.

“Another issue is that funding is provided to the Irish Environmental Network a whole nine months after budgets are announced by Government, causing untold confusion and uncertainty for the sector. Furthermore, money from the National Lottery has been difficult to access due to the lack of a funding mechanism in place.

“It would be preferable to see increased funding for environmental organisations instead of the Government spending over €19m on the greyhound racing industry.”

December 6, 2020

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