National Lottery funding kickstarts major bid to help Ouse Valley tackle climate change - 30/11/2020
An ambitious vision for the Ouse Valley community to become a national pioneer in tackling climate change and increasing sustainability has taken a major step forward.
The Ouse Valley CARES partnership has won £150,000 of funding from the National Lottery Community Fund to kickstart the project, which aims to bring the whole community together to help the environment and create a more sustainable planet for future generations to enjoy.
The development grant will help the partnership investigate, test and develop ways that the Ouse Valley can increase long-term resilience to climate change. The project area follows the river valley downstream from Barcombe, through Lewes and the villages of the lower Ouse Valley, to the large coastal communities of Seaford, Peacehaven and Newhaven.
Detailed research and engagement across the community over the next year will then be used to work up a much larger National Lottery bid – potentially up to £2.5m – to deliver a series of long-lasting projects that help address the climate emergency and help nature flourish.
The delivery phase of the scheme, if successful, could feature a number of inspiring initiatives including:
- Creating more green corridors across and between communities and connections to the wider countryside and the South Downs National Park, such as tree planting, wildflower corridors and improving habitat quality at nature reserves.
- Projects to enhance wellbeing, knowledge and skills around climate change mitigation, such as community gardens, community orchards, training for groups and schoolchildren, climate cafes, Forest School development, sustainability advice and events.
- Initiatives to reduce carbon footprint such as supporting residents to reduce energy bills, training volunteer ‘climate and energy champions’, identifying new sites for community-owned energy schemes and helping to increase accessibility to electric vehicles and green travel.
- Projects to ensure on-going funding support for the Ouse Valley through the establishment of two new funding schemes managed by the South Downs National Park Trust – one for nature recovery and the other for community-led projects that benefit nature or encourage sustainable living.
Ouse Valley CARES – which stands for Climate Action, Resilient Ecosystems, Sustainability – is spearheaded by the South Downs National Park Trust alongside a number of partners, including South Downs National Park Authority, Lewes District Council, Railway Land Wildlife Trust, Transition Town Lewes, Seaford Community Partnership, Community Energy South, OVESCO, 3VA and Sussex Community Development Association.
Around 650 projects from across the UK applied for lottery funding and the Ouse Valley is one of 15 successful applicants.
Julie Fawcett, Chair of the South Downs National Park Trust, said: “This is incredibly exciting news for the Ouse Valley and the first important step of what promises to be a really positive and long-lasting initiative around climate action.
“This development funding will allow the partnership to explore and get right to the heart of what might be possible in the Ouse Valley to create a better and more resilient home for both people and nature. Once this initial groundwork and research has been done, we’ll be able to submit a strong bid for multi-million-pound funding to make our vision a reality.
“A big part of our ethos is that everyone can play their part in climate action, whether it be creating a wildlife-friendly garden or taking simple steps to reduce their carbon footprint. It’s very much about empowering people to do what they can.”
Trevor Beattie, Chief Executive of the South Downs National Park Authority, said: “This is a trailblazing project and will be the first of its kind in Sussex, so we’re hugely excited to be taking it forward as a partnership.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the increasing importance of green spaces and connecting with nature, so we know there’s a tremendous appetite locally for sustainability and climate action. We want to build on this renewed enthusiasm for helping our environment and create a long-lasting legacy for future generations.”
Councillor Matthew Bird, Cabinet Member for Sustainability at Lewes District Council, said: “I have been involved in work on climate change in Lewes district for nearly 20 years and I think this is the most exciting opportunity we have ever had.
“It is a chance to link existing actions and create new carbon reduction projects and make the district more climate resilient.
“To support this a new website www.climateactionforum.org has been launched where residents can learn more and register climate actions they are involved in.
“The success of this bid is a testament to the hard work and commitment of all the partners.”
Adam Chugg, Chief Executive of 3VA, said: “This funding success is very exciting news.
“Our range of partners and their strong community connections will enable more community action on climate. 3VA believes rooting this work in our local communities and community organisations enables everyone to play a part, and this is underpinned by development alongside the new citizen-involving Climate Action Forum.”
Penny Shimmin, Chief Executive of Sussex Community Development Association, said: “’Addressing local resilience to climate change is an issue for everyone. We now have the opportunity to enable the whole community to get involved and shape the longer term community-led initiatives.”
Chris Rowland, Director of OVESCO, said: “This is fantastic news for community energy generation and low carbon travel, potentially providing new local employment opportunities working in partnership with stakeholders to reduce carbon emissions.”
Helen Meade, Programme Coordinator for the Railway Land Wildlife Trust, said: “We’re delighted to be taking part in this crucial and timely project. There is such a strong desire to take action on climate change and the ecological crisis locally, and this project will provide opportunities for people to come together and make significant, lasting changes.”
Nick Gardner, Head of Climate Action at The National Lottery Community Fund, said: “Thanks to National Lottery players, communities across Ouse Valley will be able to demonstrate what is possible when people take the lead in tackling climate change. From 25 years of funding environmental projects across the UK, we know that local community action can deliver solutions to reduce environmental impact that also offer additional benefits for people to reap.
“This year we have been reminded that communities are best placed to understand their places and spaces, and so often play a vital role in responding in a crisis. This funding will directly support people to respond to the climate emergency in their local communities.”