A HARBOROUGH group has secured £1 million to transform the town into a flagship for green projects across the region.
The Rural Community Council (Leicestershire & Rutland)’s Sustainable Harborough Challenge is among 12 successful community schemes across England, awarded under the Big Lottery Fund’s Communities Living Sustainably programme, it has been announced.
The cash will allow Sustainable Harborough Challenge to deploy a wide range of energy saving activities, such as retro-fitting of water saving devices, a demonstration EcoHouse to monitor energy at street level, and a green deal energy retro fit company and an energy services company to expand renewable energy generation.
Money will be used to promote resilience and self-reliance through the recruitment of energy champions such as water champions providing advice on the many ways to save and re use water for garden and household utilities.
The project will even set up an enterprise for Harborough to have its own currency for visitors to spend in and around the town.
It will also develop a self-sustaining food growing enterprise including a local food hub, community food growing ventures including cultivation of orchards, and a virtual market place for local food and suppliers.
The scheme will develop a green burial site in local woodland and will work to protect local bio diversity by maintaining and enhancing natural habitats, planting wild flowers and plants that attract bees and a variety of insects.
Encouraging shared learning for people of all ages, the scheme will provide community education, including an Eco Hub, and Eco Schools to give talks, stage events and provide training.
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Sustainable Harborough Challenge will work in partnership with ten organisations including Leicestershire County Council, De Montfort University, Environment Agency, Transition Town Market Harborough, Seven Locks Housing, and Severn Trent Water.
Project manager Diana Cook said: “ We are delighted to be partnering with Transition Town Market Harborough and also Leicestershire County Council, the Environment Agency and De Montfort University.
“We want to challeneg everyone in Market Harborough to think and act in more sustainable ways. That includes residents businesses and visitors.
“We want the community to be involved so that they can plan for the future of where they live and will encourage everyone to get involved.
“It’s a great opportunity for Harborough to become the flagship sustainable town that helps other towns across the region to become more sustainable.”
Supporting the groups each step of the way will be a partnership, led by Groundwork UK and including BRE, Federation of City Farms, Energy Savings Trust and nef. It will offer advice and guidance and also establish a learning support network to capture and share learning with other communities and inform the future development of investments of BIG’s Sustainable and Resilient Communities strategy. (www.communitieslivingsustainably.org.uk)
The Big Lottery Fund’s Communities Living Sustainably programme aims to inspire people to adapt the way they live and work and connect together to reap financial, environmental and health gains.
Mick McGrath, Big Lottery Fund head for the region, said: “When we first launched this initiative at the end of last year, we wanted to ignite the imagination of communities across the East Midlands to think up innovative ways to make sustainable living like second nature, while also addressing the vital need to help the region’s vulnerable reduce their costs and improve their quality of life.
“With adverse weather affecting crops globally - which is likely to cause an increase in food prices in UK supermarkets- and with fuel bills predicted to rise this winter, now is the time to encourage people to take small steps towards sustainable living at a local level which will help people cope with these added pressures during the recession.”