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Community Environmental Renewal Grants
17 May 2003

Highland Council is aiming to increase the Highland share of grants from the Aggregates Levy.

To achieve this there is a need to increase the quantity and quality of local bids for Community Environmental Renewal Grant (CERG) funding.

Every tonnes of primary aggregate extracted for use in the UK since april 2002 has incurred a levy of £1.60.

Highland mineral sites contribute 25 - 30% of the entire Aggregates Levy paid in Scotland.  Whilst most of the monies collected are used by the Treasury to to reduce employers National Insurance contributions the Scottish Executive and Rural Affairs Department (SEERAD) is receiving £3million annually from the proceeds of the levy to establish new sustainability funds in Scotland, intended "to deliver environmental benefits to the area subject to the environmental costs of quarrying.".

SEERAD has allocated half of its sustainability funding (£1.5 million) to the establishment of a Community Environmental Renewal Grant scheme (CERG) for Scottish communities affected by aggregates extraction.  Despite attracting 21 applications from the Highlands, the first round of CERG grants in January 2003 awarded a mere £189,775 to six Highland projects, representing just 20.5% of the total funds allocated.

Highland Council is keen to see a fairer share of this funding coming to the Highlands with a figure of £400,000 being suggested as target.  There is therefor an urgent request for more local bids.

Forward Scotland and CERG Applications
SEERAD has appointed the Glasgow-based organisation Forward Scotland to administer the CERG grant scheme for 2003/4.

Two trrou8nds of bids for CERG funding will be held this year.  The first closing date is expected to be 18 June 2003 and the second on 10 September 2003.  The first grants are expected to be awarded at the end of July 2003.

Information for applicants (including guidance and dates for grant submission) is expected to be posted on the Forward Scotland web site www.forward-scotland.org.uk in the week commencing 19 May 2003.

Bids will be invited for grants between £5000 and £50,000.  the scheme does not require match-funding from other sources but applications will be regarded favourable if some match-funding is on offer.  This could consist of, for instance, an "in-kind" contribution in volunteers' time of 30% or more.

One CERG project worker at forward Scotland will give telephone advice to grant applicants requiring assistance in completing the grant form which must be submitted electronically

The grant scheme is likely to be similar in theme and scope to the first round of CERG funding, which took place at the end of last year.  In broad terms, applications will be judged according to the extent to which the project:

 - Mitigates the environmental impact of quarrying
 - Demonstrates community support for the project
 - Demonstrates community engagement and participation in the project
 - Demonstrates community benefit
 - Can be completed by March 2004

National organisations, Community Groups and the Highland council are all eligible to apply.

Further information for potential Highland projects can be obtained from  -
Una Lee, sustainable Development Officer, the highland Council, Glenurquahart Road, Inverness IV£ 5NX
Tel 01463 702543  Fax 01463 702298  email una.lee@highland.gov.uk