Big lottery grants for environment charities

Two environmental charities have each been awarded a record £50m by the Big Lottery Fund to distribute to community groups. The money has been awarded as part of the Changing Spaces programme, aimed at improving England's local environment, a conference run by Lottery Monitor, the independent lottery information provider, was told.

Local wildlife trusts umbrella body the Royal Society of Wildlife Trusts and Groundwork UK, which supports communities through local partnerships of the public, private and voluntary sectors, won the tenders to become the BLF’s ‘award partners’ in distributing the grants. The £50m figure is the largest the BLF has distributed through award partners.

The RSWT – also known as The Wildlife Trusts – will use the money to encourage communities to grow their own food by managing land, developing understanding of sustainable farming and encouraging community enterprises such as farmers’ markets.

Groundwork UK will concentrate on improving community spaces by supporting groups to create or regenerate areas such as parks, ponds, community gardens and village greens.

Tony Hawkhead, chief executive of Groundwork UK, said the Changing Spaces scheme would make a real difference to the quality of life in many communities. He said: “One thing we’ve learned over many years is that local people are best placed to decide how to make their area a better place to live. Community Spaces will give people the tools to make those improvements happen and, crucially, to make them last.”

Sir Clive Booth, chairman of the BLF, described the RSWT and Groundwork UK as experts in their fields. “They are in the best positions to manage these schemes,” he said.

Applications for the three other award partnerships for the £234m Changing Spaces programme have already closed. A BLF spokeswoman said the fund hoped to announce the winner in the near future.

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