A NEW exciting environmental project focusing on cross-community and cross-border relations in the Strabane, Lifford, and surrounding area has been announced.
The Derry City and Strabane District Council project will see them working with Donegal County Council and community groups on both sides of the border to deliver an innovative programme of activity.
The Strabane and Lifford Environmental Project is funded by the European Union’s PEACE IV Programme, which is managed by the Special EU Programmes Body (SEUPB) and will run until December 2020, with programmes to be delivered over six months and opportunities for 110 participants in the area to take part.
The various programmes include a Practical Action Group, which will involve work days focused on improving the environment, the Environmental Explorers, which is designed to help people realise how much the local environment has to offer, and Learning in the Landscape, which will involve structured courses that bring all sides of the community together to learn more about their area.
On Wednesday, companies that will be involved in the delivery of those project areas were announced.
There will then be a final celebration event in the Autumn, and with an Environmental Action Plan being produced across the duration of the project, with full community input and support, it will ensure that the work that takes place will have a lasting and positive effect on Strabane and the surrounding areas.
Mayor of Derry City and Strabane District Council, Michaela Boyle, said she was looking forward to seeing the project in action.
“This is a really exciting project and one that I would encourage everyone to consider getting involved in.
“As a Council we are strongly focused on both the protection of our environment as well as the continuous positive strengthening of relations between all sides of our communities.
“The future of our planet is something rife in world news at the minute, and this Strabane and Lifford Environmental Project allows us to play our part in educating ourselves about what we have and how, together, we can protect it.
“I am looking forward to seeing the work that takes place as the year progresses.”
Chairman of Donegal County Council, cllr Nicholas Crossan also welcomed the project, which he described as innovative and with the potential to bring people together to work on issues that are common to everyone.
“Moving to a low carbon climate resilient society is a priority for everyone and is a cross-cutting issue not just in Ireland but across the globe,” said Cllr Crossan.
“And the only way we can address these challenges is by working together to change attitudes, to change practices and behaviours and to educate people that small everyday changes can have a huge impact on the environment.
“I think this project could be an exemplar for other regions and I would like to commend the Peace IV Board for funding and supporting such an exciting initiative.”
Council environmental officer Julie Finlay, who is managing the project, explained that it is an inclusive and informative way of making people more aware of the environment around them while also building positive relations across all sides of the community.
“We are delighted to announce the deliverers involved in the Strabane and Lifford Environmental Project and we’re looking forward to the year ahead, and beyond.
“The purpose of this project is to increase environmental awareness and provide environmental education for groups and communities within the Strabane, Lifford and surrounding areas, whilst establishing sustainable relationships amongst those communities through peace and reconciliation.
“We will be meeting with members of the public, private and voluntary sectors and hosting a number of taster events in February and March that will explain more detail about the exciting events ahead.
“As an environmental programme, this project will leave a legacy of specific skills in the local area, and a framework for the strategic management of the environment. It will also leave a legacy of improved relationships between different communities which will have economic as well as social impacts, so we’re looking forward to getting started.”
Alison Wallace, chair of the PEACE IV Board for Derry City and Strabane District Council, added: “We’re delighted to see the Strabane and Lifford Environmental Project moving forward.
“It has been important to the Board that our PEACE IV Programme benefitted the entire council area geographically, and this is one of our key projects in Strabane town and in the immediate surrounding rural and cross-border areas. The project, whilst different to, was deliberately designed to complement the forthcoming Riverine Capital project.”
Match-funding for the project has been provided by the Department for Communities in Northern Ireland and the Department of Rural and Community Development in Ireland.