Councils: DAERA Pandemic Support

Oral Answers to Questions — Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs – in the Northern Ireland Assembly at 2:30 pm on 5th October 2021.

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Photo of Peter Weir Peter Weir DUP 2:30 pm, 5th October 2021

T7. Mr Weir asked the Minister of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs what support his Department has provided to local councils during the pandemic. (AQT 1647/17-22)

Photo of Edwin Poots Edwin Poots DUP

The support that has been given to councils has been substantial; in particular, financial support for waste management and through funding has been very substantial. I do not have the figures on me at the moment, but the support that has been provided through my Department to councils runs into tens of millions of pounds. I should add that, in the last year, most councils have been able to have zero or very low rate increases because they found themselves in a better financial position. Much of that was to do with the support that they received from central government.

Photo of Peter Weir Peter Weir DUP

The Minister specifically mentioned waste management. How have recycling rates been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic?

Photo of Edwin Poots Edwin Poots DUP

Recycling rates have gone down slightly. That is unfortunate, but we hope to turn that around and arrest it. We continue to give considerable support to councils for recycling. We have a package set aside of £23 million for councils to install new bins and collection systems that will ensure higher levels of recycling. I was in County Fermanagh last week at Drummee, which is claiming a lot more materials. In the first year, even with COVID, it claimed around 600 tons of materials that went away from landfill and were recycled. That is a saving of £60,000 for the people in the Fermanagh and Omagh District Council area. That work will continue in order to ensure that we drive up recycling and that our councils are motivated to do it.