Fund passes on green sustainability criterion

The Community Fund has decided not to require applicants for grant funding to assess the environmental impact of their activities, in a move that has been denounced by Greenpeace.

Although the lottery distributor is setting up a website to give charities advice on how to minimise their impact on the environment, it has stopped short of including environmental considerations in its application criteria.

This is in spite of the fund's own research from four focus groups and 300 telephone interviews that showed 95 per cent of grant recipients believe the fund should encourage charities to reduce their impact on the environment.

The fund said it opted not to change the application criteria after a "small but significant minority" of respondents said they would be put off applying for grants if they were forced to measure their effect on the environment. But Greenpeace says the distributor should go further.

"While we don't want to create intolerable burdens for smaller charities, there should definitely be environmental conditions attached when it comes to funding larger charities," said Blake Lee-Harwood, campaigns director at Greenpeace. "For large bricks-and-mortar projects there should be significant binding contracts relating to environmental performance, covering areas such as energy efficiency and the use of sustainable timber."

The establishment of the site has been welcomed by Friends of the Earth and the RSPB, which say that it will provide a useful reference point for charities. But the RSPB agreed that the distributor could be stricter.

"I think it should encourage grant seekers to have an environmental policy or programme in place, and provide examples," said Conor Jameson, a spokesman for RSPB's fundraising development department.

A joint team from the Community Fund and the New Opportunities Fund is now working to establish two websites to provide practical help on minimising environmental impact.

The sites will give advice on issues such as using energy efficiently and better use of transport.

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