Ouse Valley wins £2 million for climate action
Transition Town Lewes is delighted to be part of a winning bid to secure £2 million of Lottery funding to help make the Ouse Valley a national pioneer in tackling the climate and environmental emergency.
The National Lottery Community Fund, the largest funder of community activity in the UK, awarded the significant sum to Ouse Valley Climate Action (OVCA), which successfully bid for the funding among over 600 applicants.
OVCA brings together 10 organisations, including the South Downs National Park Authority and Lewes District Council, as well as community groups like Transition Town Lewes (see below), and has spent several years working up a successful bid.
Its project area follows the River Ouse downstream from the village of Barcombe – which is aiming to be the UK’s first net-zero village – through to Lewes then south to Seaford, Peacehaven, and Newhaven.
How the funding will be used
The funding will focus on three areas: nature recovery and climate resilience; people’s knowledge and skills; and greener energy and travel.
Aims of the project include
- Capturing more carbon with natural solutions, such as tree planting and creating new wildlife habitats.
- Making space for water in the Ouse catchment, such as creating water habitats, to reduce flood risk and increase resilience to drought.
- Supporting more community green spaces and food-growing areas.
- Empowering and educating residents about climate action and sustainable living through inspiring events, engagement and training sessions.
- Developing more local community energy groups and community-owned renewable energy projects.
- Events and engagement around improving household energy efficiency.
- Support new greener travel initiatives around walking, cycling and e-bikes.
Councillor Matthew Bird, Cabinet Member for Sustainability at Lewes District Council, said: “It’s impossible to underestimate the importance of the Ouse Valley Climate Action project to our communities and partners along the river catchment and I’m really delighted and proud that out of nearly 600 bid submissions the National Lottery has recognised ours as one of the very few to be successful.
“We worked extremely hard at the council to ensure a strong partnership bid and personally, having worked in Lewes district for nearly 20 years on climate change, this is an extremely rewarding moment. Ouse Valley Climate Action will help us to face the opportunities and challenges brought about by climate change with increased support and determination.”
Chris Rowland, Chief Executive at community energy company OVESCO, said: “OVESCO is delighted to be one of the Ouse Valley Climate Action partners benefiting from the National Lottery Climate Action funding. Acting on climate change and addressing energy security needs is central to OVESCO’s work and our vision for a clean green future. This funding will enable OVESCO to offer local energy services across the Lewes district, supporting us to scale up the benefits of community energy across the Ouse Valley over the next three years and beyond’.
On behalf of Transition Town Lewes, Kirsten Firth said: “We’re delighted that this funding will enable Ouse Valley Climate Action to continue supporting communities up and down the Ouse Valley, to take steps to address climate change and to build resilience against its impacts.”
What happens next
The next steps will be to create a dedicated team to deliver the project locally, working with schools, businesses and community groups.
The Ouse Valley Climate Action partners are: South Downs National Park Authority; South Downs National Park Trust, Lewes District Council, OVESCO, Community Energy South, Sussex Community Development Association, 3VA, Railway Land Wildlife Trust, Transition Town Lewes, and Seaford Community Partnership.
Follow the project on the South Downs National Park website here.