Cathy's Blog - Grants
Supporting local organisations and communities is something we do all the time across the two Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
Some of my colleagues do this by getting very hands on, and often muddy! This happens when practical conservation falls on a wet day, and we’ve had quite a lot of those lately. Tree planting, clearing scrub and paths, and helping with pond maintenance is all dirty and enjoyable work, and essential to the ongoing enhancement of these outstanding landscapes.
In my job I rarely get my hands dirty, but I support the valley and coast from my desk. The AONBs are both grant seeking and grant giving. Within my funding and development role I handle our grant giving, and it is a busy time of year, as new requests come in and grant supported projects from the last financial year finish.
In 2017-18, from our six grant programmes, we supported 50 projects with over £92,000 across the two AONBs. Even better than that, as most organisations used our grants to match fund their projects, we calculated that the value of all this conservation and enhancement activity was just under £half a million. We are currently mid-process for our 2018-19 grants, so the value of forthcoming work is not yet clear, but there is great enthusiasm from communities and organisations all seeking to deliver projects that will improve access and habitats, build awareness of our natural heritage, or educate our young people about the value of their surroundings.
I mentioned that we are also grant seeking, and we look for funding for projects we want to deliver too. Over the years we have had Heritage Lottery Fund grants, EU funding, and we are now working up projects to seek LEADER funding. Our partnership working with the Environment Agency and Defra mean we can deliver River Stour improvements and have a Marine Pioneer on the Suffolk Coast. Plus, we benefit from enhancement grants from organisations like UK Power Networks, via Ofgem allowances, who underground low voltage power cables and improve the visual amenity of the landscape.
The AONBs are extremely proud to be able to say we support such a wide range of community activities across the landscapes.
First published in the East Anglian Daily Times on 14 April 2018