National Lottery Funding for the Environment

In 2013 there was a campaign to have national lottery funds allocated to the natural environment. The list of beneficiaries eligible for funding was under review and as environmental matters are grossly under funded this seemed like an ideal opportunity to have some much needed funds go towards the environment. I remember it as a very hard battle and eventually environment was added to the list.

I am aware that various elected representatives and NGOs have since tried to find out what happened next – without much luck. The following is a parliamentary question from January 2015, almost 2 years later:

Written answers

Tuesday, 27 January 2015 Department of Environment, Community and Local Government

National Lottery Funding Disbursement
Maureen O’Sullivan (Dublin Central, Independent)
To ask the Minister for Environment, Community and Local Government in view of the amendment accepted to the National Lottery Bill, including natural environment agencies, as potential recipients as of April 2013, the procedure for agencies and groups that qualify for funding under the amendment to apply for funding; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [47713/14]

Alan Kelly (Tipperary North, Labour)

The inclusion of Section 41(1) of the National Lottery Act 2013 , incorporating the new heading “natural environment” as one of the purposes for which the proceeds of the National Lottery may be applied, is to be welcomed. My Department is currently giving consideration to an appropriate mechanism for the disbursement of funds under this heading.

It is worth noting that my Department already provides funding to a wide range of environmental initiatives, including the Local Agenda 21 Environmental Partnership Fund which provides grants to small-scale environmental projects at local level. My Department provided €397,000 under this scheme in 2014 and this was matched with an equivalent amount from the relevant local authorities. This funding scheme is advertised in national and local papers and groups apply for funding through their relevant local authority. The 2015 scheme will be announced later this year.

My Department also provides core funding and capacity building funding to environmental Non-Governmental Organisations, including the Irish Environmental Network (IEN) and the Sustainable Water Network (SWAN). Funding of €867,000 was provided for IEN, Environmental Pillar and Environmental Law Implementation Group activities in 2014, of which €415,000 was provided for disbursal to IEN member organisations. Funding of €168,000 was provided to SWAN in 2014. It is also open to environmental NGOs to apply for National Lottery funding, for relevant projects, through the Heritage Council’s National Lottery Scheme.

So this year I decided to see what had happened and how I may now apply for lottery funding to support environmental projects. On June 10th 2019 I emailed the National Lottery:

A few years ago I signed a petition asking that the national lottery include the environment as a category for funding.
I have since moved county and lost contact with a lot of what’s going on. I believe that the environment was added to the list.
Can you tell me how to go about applying for funding for the environment as I wish to do some projects in my new community.
Kind regards
Theresa

I received the following reply:

Dear Theresa

Thank you for your letter regarding the National Lottery Beneficiary Fund.

The role of the National Lottery is to raise funds for distribution by the Government to designated good causes. Funds raised by the National Lottery are transferred to the Exchequer and are used to part-finance expenditure by various Government Departments on projects in certain categories. Each Government department or body accept applications for funding on an annual basis and disperse grants accordingly. We have no involvement in the distribution of these funds.

Here is how to apply for the various streams of funding:

Sports – Sports Capital Programme or any funding issued through the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport. More information and applications can be made at www.dttas.ie/sport/english/sports-capital-programme
Arts – Any funding provided through the Arts Council of Ireland. Applications can be made at www.artscouncil.ie
Heritage – Any funding provided through the Heritage Council of Ireland. Applications can be made at www.heritagecouncil.ie
Youth – This stream of funding is issued by the Department of Children and Youth Affairs, which can be applied for at www.dcya.gov.ie
Health – Funding from the Department of Health can be applied for at www.health.gov.ie or from the Health Service Executive at https://www.hse.ie/eng/services/list/1/schemes/natlotterygrants/
Community – Funding schemes administered by the Department of Planning, Housing and Local Government (formerly the Department of Environment, Community & Local Government) can be applied for at www.housing.gov.ie
Irish Language – Funding for the promotion of the Irish language can be applied for at www.chg.gov.ie.

I hope this information is useful to you and I wish you all the best in securing funding for this very worthy association.

Regards,

Support Team Representative

So I wrote to the department of Planning, Housing and Local Government, receiving the following reply:

Dear Ms. O’ Donohoe,

Upon further investigation, your recent email in connection with funding for environmental  projects, is a matter primarily for the Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment. As a result, it has now been forwarded on to the office of Minister Richard Bruton, Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment, for their attention and direct reply.

Yours sincerely,

I received the following email from Richard Brutons office on June 14th 2019:

Dear Ms O’Donohoe

National Lottery funding is not currently directed towards environmental projects or purposes. 

You may be aware that there is an Environment Fund which is comprised of the receipts from landfill and plastic bag levies. 

One of the grant schemes funded by the Environment Fund is the Local Agenda 21 Environmental Partnership Fund (LA21 EPF). This Scheme supports small scale local environmental projects and your project may fit within this Scheme. Please find more information on the Scheme here:

https://www.dccae.gov.ie/en-ie/environment/topics/environmental-protection-and-awareness/local-agenda-21-partnership-fund/Pages/default.aspx

The 2019 LA21 Scheme has not yet opened for applications but I will add your email address to a mailing list to be informed when the Scheme is opened for applications.

I hope this is of assistance. 

My reply on that day:

I do know the LA 21 fund which is due shortly. Unfortunately it is dependent upon local authorities having matched funding. This greatly limits the amount available. It is also limited in it’s remit. I was living in laois when the council set aside no money for LA21 which meant no projects were funded that year.

The lack of state funding for people in Ireland trying desperately to protect and enhance our environment is criminally low. I believe the core funding supporting the Irish environmental network is pittance for the scale of the challenges we face. This continuous underinvestment in the people who work practically to prevent biodiversity loss and environmental destruction is probably why things are so bad.

I know natural environment was added to the list of lottery beneficiaries. Could you find out what steps are being taken to allow the lottery funding go towards environmental projects or purposes? I know it was a hard battle to have it included. I wonder if the administrations response to eventually conceding to it’s inclusion was to prevent it ever materialising? Could you please find out if any steps have been taken to act upon the decision to include it? Or confirm that there is indeed no intention of ever acting upon the commitment of including it as a beneficiary? Much time of ien members, including myself, went into fighting to have it included. Please don’t let that be a waste of time too.

I received the following reply on July 9th

Dear Ms O’Donohoe

I refer to your further correspondence concerning funding for environmental purposes.

I can inform you that more than 95% of the increased funding for the LA21 Scheme was drawn down in both 2017 and 2018. Local authorities have welcomed the increased funding and have provided the matching funding to ensure the expansion of the Scheme.

In respect of the IEN I can inform you that this Department’s funding for the member organisations of the IEN increased by 23% in 2018 and this increased level of funding will be maintained in 2019.

The Department will shortly be formally writing to the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform concerning the availability of national lottery funding for environmental purposes.

It looked like my information was prompting further enquiries. Perhaps lottery funding would, at long last, get to environmental causes as fought for and promised in 2013.

On September 4th I emailed Minister Brutons office for an update:

I’m just wondering if you got any further with this? Any reply from DPER? (Public Expenditure and Reform )

I got no reply.

So to recap. On Tuesday 27th January 2015 Alan Kelly said of the 2013 action of “incorporating the new heading “natural environment” as one of the purposes for which the proceeds of the National Lottery may be applied, is to be welcomed. My Department is currently giving consideration to an appropriate mechanism for the disbursement of funds under this heading. 

Then on July 9th 2019 Richard Brutons office wrote “The Department will shortly be formally writing to the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform concerning the availability of national lottery funding for environmental purposes.”

Environmental activists are the hardest working people I know. They work tirelessly for the greater good, to ensure a habitable planet for this and future generations. There is little or no money to be made in undoing environmental damage. When you are aware of the dire situation we find ourselves in all of your time generally goes into the restoration of earth – thinking, planning and doing. The time we put into lobbying to have lottery funding allocated to the environment to help us in our work should not have been in vain. The mere fact that we haven’t had the time to pursue this issue is indicative of the workload we carry.

It was obvious very early on, back in 2013, that whoever was responsible for the national lottery funding beneficiaries list never wanted it to go to the environment in the first place. Whoever that was must have some power within the civil service and has even gone on to bury it from future administrations. In my opinion and experience as a civil servant, who ever says the people we elect are in charge is wrong.

Theresa O’Donohoe

December 30th 2019

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