South West College has been awarded £23,000 as part of Live Here Love Here’s Marine Litter Capital Grants Scheme, where organisations, community groups and businesses across Northern Ireland can benefit from funding to help protect local waterways and marine areas.

Funded by the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs, the scheme made £198,000 available for interested parties to purchase equipment and machinery that will aim to prevent litter entering our marine environment as well as remove litter from coastal and riverine areas. The grant money allocated will help preserve our aquatic spaces and improve marine biodiversity and the health and wellbeing of our coastal communities.

Supriya Foster, Sustainability Officer at South West College, said: “We plan to use the money to raise awareness of and combat plastic pollution in line with our commitment to the UN Sustainability Goals. This will be actioned by series of workshops, an awareness campaign and recycling centres introduced across all 5 campuses, raising awareness of plastic pollution in our waterways. We hope to achieve this by educating and promoting practical ways to make more sustainable choices.

The workshops will encourage and promote recycling in an urban and inland waterway setting. We will also be adding over 80 new outdoor recycle points across our campuses, as well as increasing education on the importance of reducing and managing waste. South West College is in a unique position to make a discernible difference in the fight against plastic pollution, being adjacent to both Lough Erne and Strule River. Our campaign began in November and over the next two months we will be running a series of internal and external workshops, alongside a new sustainability induction module for all staff and students.

South West College has the ambitious target of being completely plastic free campus in the next 3 years. In December we received 4 sets of water testing equipment that will help monitor our water quality and the long term affects of marine pollution on our water ways. The funding provided by ‘Live Here Love Here’ team will be invaluable in helping us actioning this target and providing education and facilities for local communities to help take part in this mission, ultimately improving waterways and the marine environment for the local people.

The Marine Litter Capital Grants, which received applications between June and September, were open to any organisation with responsibilities for managing free-to-access public open space. Funded projects were required to demonstrate innovative, creative or functional approaches to prevent litter reaching the marine environment. With 80% of marine litter originating from land-based activities, grants were distributed across all geographical areas of Northern Ireland to meet the scale of the challenge.

Supriya added: “Over 1.3 million single-use plastic (SUP) cups and 3 million SUP food containers are sent to landfill weekly in N.I. – that is 223.6 million a year ending up in either our rivers, landfill or our oceans. It is an honour to be able to work with ‘Live Here Love Here’ on such an important global issue as marine plastic pollution. It is my hope that in years to come, we will be able to turn the tide on single use plastic make recycling and waste management something second nature, and not just something “we do”. I am excited to work with the ‘Live Here Love Here’ team on such an important issue and grateful for all their support.

It is hoped that the scheme will run for a further three years, with up to £675,000 arriving by 2025. DAERA investment is administered by Live Here Love Here, the community-based campaign which aims to promote civic pride and community action to improve our local environment.

Helen Tomb, Live Here Love Here Manager comments: “It has been a great pleasure to support 17 projects this year through Live Here Love Here’s Marine Litter Capital Grants Scheme. This is a brilliant chance for people to access the capital they need to look after their local marine environment and help it flourish in the future. As always, we extend our thanks to our generous and hard-working volunteers for giving us their free time to help keep Northern Ireland beautiful. We encourage as many groups as possible to reach out to us if they want to ‘Live Here Love Here’.”

For further information on the Marine Litter Capital Grants Scheme, visit and to learn more about Sustainability at SWC, please contact our dedicated Sustainability team: