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SSDC Community Grants help local environment projects

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Back in June we highlighted our SSDC Community Grant Scheme and how it can help with local community and environment projects to make where you live a better place.  We’ve had a brilliant response and since June we’ve received over 30 enquiries, from Parishes and Community Groups wishing to improve their rights of way network, air source heat pumps, outdoor activity areas, wildlife ponds, tree planting and eco-friendly benches to name a few.

Here are some of the fantastic projects that have been approved already.

Reintroducing Ratty – Ferne Animal Sanctuary

Photo credit Ferne Animal Sanctuary

Ferne Animal Sanctuary applied for £950 of a £2,950 project to reintroduce water voles to the sanctuary.

Water voles are endangered in the United Kingdom and urgent action is needed to ensure the long-term survival of this iconic and charismatic species. The scheme will involve two introductions of water voles into ponds at Ferne, with the aim of developing a breeding population that can spread out and re-populate South Somerset. In the first phase, the voles will be introduced into the two ponds nearest the visitor centre, where visitors will be able to see and learn about them. Once the population is established, they will seek to encourage the spread of the voles into additional scapes on the farm which is only a field away from the River Yarty. Phase one will be funded by the Blackdown Hills AONB Sustainable Development Fund and will go ahead this year. The SSDC Community Grant award will fund the second introduction next year.

Chief Executive of Ferne Animal Sanctuary Elaine Hayes said

“This funding is very important to us. Water voles in South Somerset were almost wiped out by mink in the past. They are small mammals with a limited travel range and so reintroduction is the best way to bring this beautiful mammal back to South Somerset. Ferne is a sanctuary and we have the right habitat to be able to do this work and we are excited about the potential for the water voles to spread widely as the population develops. In a year with so much sadness, it is lovely to be able to work on a project that holds promise for the future.”

Installation of Solar Panels, Barrington Football Club

Barrington Football club applied for £800 of a £9,500 project to install solar panels at their ground.  This project was completed in August and the remainder of the costs were funded by the Parish Council and the Club’s own funds.  The electricity at the ground was previously provided by a generator that ran on diesel, which was not very eco-friendly or reliable as it emitted fumes and regularly broke down, meaning training and fixtures would have to be halted and re-arranged. The Club had to find a solution and decided to investigate installing solar panels.  This was not straight-forward as they were unable to connect to the national grid, but they were not put off and found a solution through the use of a battery storage system.  They now have a reliable source of green energy, which will improve and enhance the club’s facilities and means they can concentrate on the beautiful game.

Drinking water for Gainsborough Play Park, Milborne Port

An application by Milborne Port Parish Council has been approved for £684 to cover half of the cost to provide drinking water at the Gainsborough Play Park in Milborne Port.  Gainsborough Play Park is a large play park with other public areas including a skate park, which is very popular and well used by children of all ages and parents of Milborne Port and neighbouring parishes.

Purchase of Curry Woods, Curry Rivel

SSDC awarded £12,500 to Curry Woods Conservation Trust towards the £61,000 purchase of approximately four hectares of land from Somerset County Council.

Curry Woods is made up of ancient woodland and arable land and is of ancient origin. It forms part of the ecological network running along the Fivehead to Somerton ridge and is unique and irreplaceable with a very high biodiversity value. It’s taken centuries to develop and become home to specialist communities of fungi and invertebrates, birds and mammals.

The planned woodland management and extensive expansion will help to deliver local government environment targets through increasing its biodiversity, carbon capture and storage and water retention. It also goes without saying, it will provide direct benefits to the community through interaction with the natural world, not only by having open access to the whole site, but also through tree planting and volunteer conservation activities they can join.

This is very much a community project, which involved them raising an amazing contribution of £30,000 in just six months. This was added to funding from the Parish Council and the Fairfield Trust. A truly brilliant example of what can be achieved when everyone pulls together and testament to how much the community cares about Curry Woods. Congratulations to all.

SSDC Portfolio Holder for the Environment Cllr Sarah Dyke said

“The response to our re-launch of the SSDC Community Grant Scheme to include environment projects has been amazing. In these challenging times it is inspiring to see so many communities putting the environment to the fore and we are encouraging more to do the same, to enhance where they live and create a better environment for the people, wildlife and habitats of South Somerset.”

Could your parish benefit from an SSDC Community Grant?

Grants are awarded to charities, non-profit organisations and Town and Parish Councils. We can award up to a maximum of 50% of the application value and request you have support from your Parish or Town Council, as well as considered other possible funding options. Requests between £101 and £12,500 are considered under this scheme.

Thank you. You response is appreciated.

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