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April 13, 2010

Communities win from having minority government

One of the benefits of a minority administration in the Scottish Parliament is that the smaller parties can occasionally win disproportionately large concessions in return for their votes.  One striking example of this, which has had a massive impact on the community sector, has been the £27.4 million Climate Challenge Fund – almost all of which has gone directly to communities.  The last of the cash has just been allocated

Tim Pauling, The Press and Journal

Community projects throughout Scotland are to benefit from the final share of a multimillion-pound fund to help reduce climate changing gases.

Successful winners range from a project to help students in Aberdeen reduce their carbon footprints to a scheme to encourage people to eat local foods in the Highlands.

In Perth and Kinross, Letham Residents’ Association was awarded £71,000 to encourage local people to grow their own food and to compost waste.

A total of 90 projects were awarded £5.5million by the Scottish Government yesterday. It was the final slice of the £27.4million Climate Change Fund agreed for ecological projects by ministers with support from the Green Party.

Aberdeen University Students Association (AUSA) was awarded more than £111,000 for a variety of projects designed to give students the tools and knowledge to cut their carbon emissions.

AUSA president Robin Parker said: ‘This is an incredibly exciting moment for AUSA, putting us at the forefront as a student community in finding creative solutions to the challenges presented to us by climate change.

“The project is based on enabling and empowering students to find out more about the carbon impact that they are having and to take action themselves to reduce it.”

Transition Town Forres Ltd will get £41,000 to develop, manage and evaluate a range of projects, including a large community garden, energy group and re-skilling programme.

The Park Ecovillage Trust, in Moray, was awarded £241,500 to provide hands-on eco-kits for the region’s schools, showing how whole sustainable systems work so that pupils can take action at home and at school.

Transition Black Isle will get £86,000 for a carbon cutting programme including introducing the “Black Isle Diet” to encourage local food consumption and establish community gardens.

Coimhearsnachd Bharraidh agus Bhatarsaidh Ltd, in the Western Isles, was awarded more than £139,000 to establish a household energy efficiency taskforce to help people examine home energy use.

Environment Secretary Richard Lochhead said: “We have tapped into communities’ desire to do more to help the environment and I look forward to seeing what will be achieved long-term through this exceptional fund.”

Green MSP Robin Harper said: “The Climate Challenge Fund is a chance for communities to innovate and lead, and to find opportunities instead of problems.”