North Wessex Downs Sustainable Development Fund 

Status: Open to applications 


Financial assistance is available for innovative, sustainable projects that bring environmental, social and economic benefits to the North Wessex Downs Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB). 

Value Notes 

Grants average between £1,000 and £5,000, for up to 75% of total project costs (exceptionally 100% for voluntary groups). 

Extended Description 

The Sustainable Development Fund (SDF) has been established to provide grant support to organisations wishing to develop innovative and sustainable projects that involve local 
communities and young people in the North Wessex Downs Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB). The Fund aims to develop and test new ways of achieving a more 
sustainable way of life in the AONB through the development of projects that bring environmental, social and economic benefits to the area. 
The SDF, sponsored by the Department of Environment Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA), is administered by the North Wessex Downs AONB Office
Latest Information 
Applications may be submitted at any time. 

Key Criteria 

Applications are invited from: 
• Voluntary and community groups working in partnership. 
• Individuals. 
• Businesses and organisations from the private sector. 
• Local authorities and public bodies. 
• Charities. 
Projects must have a positive impact on the North Wessex Downs AONB (applicants do not have to live or work in the AONB). 

Eligible Expenditure 

Projects must be able to demonstrate how they meet some or all of the following core criteria: 
• Help to conserve and enhance the natural beauty of the landscape (geology, wildlife, heritage). 
• Increase people's understanding and enjoyment of the North Wessex Downs. 
• Support and involvement from the community. 
• Promote sustainability (bring environmental, social or economic benefits in a way that meets present needs without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs). Projects should also try and meet one or more of the following desirable criteria: 
• Raise awareness, understanding and appreciation of the unique qualities and sensitivities of the North Wessex Downs among the general public and specific communities associated with the project. Interpret and celebrate to a wide audience the natural and cultural wealth of the North Wessex Downs, including the role of land management in shaping and conserving the landscape. 
• Bring organisations and people together to co-operate to tackle problems or promote new ideas. Demonstrate innovation and/or best practice and add value or new dimensions to existing projects. 
• Encourage more people to interact with the natural environment of the North Wessex Downs to improve their well-being. 
• Help to conserve and enhance the natural beauty of the North Wessex Downs as expressed in the Management Plan – this includes geology, soils, water, wildlife, heritage and dark skies, as well as qualitative aspects like tranquillity. 
• Promote sustainable use of the natural environment. This can include ways in which sustainable energy schemes can be adopted to cut greenhouse gas emissions and minimise the impact of climate change. 
• Encourage greater participation by people of all ages, combat social exclusion and promote diversity. Encourage links between urban communities and those living or working in the North Wessex Downs. 
Projects must be completed by 31 March of the same financial year in which the grant was awarded. 
SDF grants can be used for the following: 
• Add value to existing projects. 
• Add a sustainable development aspect to existing projects. Pump-prime and matchfund new projects. 
SDF grants can be used to fund the following project costs: 
• Project materials, equipment and implementation. 
• Feasibility studies. 
• Publicity and marketing. 
• Labour and contractors costs. 

Match Funding Restrictions 

The SDF grant can provide up to 75% of total project costs. In exceptional cases 100% may be provided for voluntary groups. 
For local authorities and other government organisations the SDF grant can provide up to 50% of the total project budget. 
In most instances voluntary groups are required to provide in-kind contributions such as volunteer time, or loan of equipment, premises, or land. Volunteer time is valued at £50 
per day or £6.25 per hour. Specialist, technical or professional volunteers are valued at £100 per day or £12.50 per hour. 


Funding is not available for: 
• Capital costs. 
• For-profit projects. Further Information 
Grants are available for projects that help to deliver the North Wessex Downs AONB Management Plan, which includes: 

Landscape and Geology

• Restoration and management of local features or viewpoints. 

• Improved access to local places of interest. 
• Twinning of rural and urban schools or similar organisations. 
• Training in traditional rural skills and crafts. 
• Restoration and management of local wildlife habitats, such as coppice or water meadows. 
• Local seed harvesting for chalk grassland creation.
• Wildlife surveys of road verges or villages. 
• Riverside management for native brown trout. 
• Recording, promoting and celebrating local biodiversity. 
• Improving the management of the village green or local common for wildlife. 
Historic Environment
• Research into local landscape history. 
• Sustainable management of historic sites and features. 
• Recording and promoting the local built heritage. 
• Improving the management of the village green or local common for wildlife. 
Sustainable Resources
• Schemes to reduce waste, such as farm plastics, recycling, community composting, recycling rainwater. 
• Developing the use of renewable energy in the community or on the farm. 
• Reduction of pollution and protection of natural resources. 
• Providing energy efficiency advice. 
Living and Working
• Community car or bike-sharing schemes. 
• Establishing a 'Green Business Club' to improve environmental efficiency. 
• Arts projects to explore and celebrate the local environment. 
Farming and Rural Land Use
• Growing and promoting local produce. 
• Community agriculture. 
• Farm diversification that helps the environment. 
• Bringing old orchards back into production. 
Forestry, Woodland and Trees
• Developing markets for woodland products. 
• Green wood-working courses. 
• A survey of veteran trees. 
Tourism, Recreation and Access
• Developing sustainable practices in a tourism enterprise. 
• Youth and community group visits to local farms and estates. 
• Developing an eco-hostel. 
• Improving access for all to the countryside. 
• Promoting the use of local materials on public rights of way. 
Transport• Safer routes to school. 
• Developing a transport hub linking public transport to walking and cycling. 
• A road sign audit (reduction of proliferation of signs in the countryside). 
• Village gateways using local materials. 
• Cycle maintenance training. 
Planning and Development
• Developing 'green' building practices. 
• Feasibility studies for sustainable buildings. 
• Parish plans. 
This list is not comprehensive and support is available for a wide range of other innovative project proposals. 

Application Procedure 

Guidelines and an Expression of Interest form can be found on the North Wessex Downs AONB website
Expression of Interest forms should be submitted on-line and will be considered within five working days. 
Applicants will be notified by e-mail whether they have passed this first assessment and given a unique application password to access the application form on-line. 
Contact the SDF Co-ordinator for further information or to request a print copy of the Expression of Interest form.
Addresses and contacts 
For further information on how to obtain this funding opportunity locally, please contact the 
Contact details: 
The SDF Co-ordinator
North Wessex Downs AONB 
Denford Manor 
RG17 0UN 
Telephone: 01488 685440