Adapting to Coastal Change

On 30 March 2010 Defra published Adapting to Coastal Change: Developing a Policy Framework (PDF 986KB).  This represents a milestone in the evolution of a policy framework on supporting communities in adapting to coastal change.

Coastal change is a natural process that has and will continue to shape our coastline. We will defend where we can, but there will be times when this will neither be sustainable nor affordable.

Government is working to develop a range of approaches to support  community adaptation to coastal change, particularly in those communities where it will not be possible to defend.

In the summer of 2009 a consultation on coastal policy also sought views on  guidance to provide a framework and roadmap to develop and implement successful community engagement to facilitate adaptation planning.  The Community Adaptation Planning and Engagement (CAPE) has now been published.

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Three inspiring third sector ‘waste projects’

[Guest post by Marc Owen, Policy Adviser, Waste Strategy - Policy and Processes, Defra]
Photos courtesy of Green-Works

Officials from the Defra Waste Programme recently visited three inspiring third sector projects in London.

Vital Regeneration works in London’s most deprived neighbourhoods, developing sustainable and effective social, environmental and economic programmes. We were shown their particularly impressive food waste collection service, which operates around a number of estates and high-rise buildings – where collections can often prove difficult to manage effectively. The food waste is composted nearby in two enclosed units known as rockets – we were very impressed with how this worked in such a small space and within such a built up area. The scheme covers 1,200 households, employs two local people and composts a tonne of food waste per week. The compost they create is used by Westminster Parks and also in a nearby community-owned growing site.

Staying Put Services was the second project we visited, based in the Kensington and Chelsea area. Their Furnish project collects unwanted furniture for redistribution and staff showed us around their extensive warehouse – more like a grotto full of (sometimes surprising) household items that had been donated. Their partnership with Shepherds Bush Housing Group ensures that the furniture goes to who need it most – people, for example, who might struggle to afford good quality new or second-hand furniture elsewhere. In the past year Furnish collected 170 tonnes of furniture and delivered to over 800 homes. Furthermore, this partnership offers financial/operational sustainability, something that can pose a problem for many third sector organisations.

Finally, we visited Green-Works, based in Stonebridge, who collect, refurbish and resell unwanted office furniture, and is the leading organisation in this field. We were shown round one of their two huge warehouses, full of furniture that had been recovered, was in the process of being expertly refurbished, and prepared for resale or redistribution. Green-Works has already been responsible for diverting over 60,000t of furniture from landfill, and also provides jobs and training to disadvantaged people (they have nationally helped more than 150 people find employment). Particularly impressive – and a source of pride for Green-Works – was its achievement in winning big contracts to work with HSBC and Barclays when they moved to Canary Wharf – where they were able to recover 12,000 desks for reuse or otherwise (in the case of the 2% of items they can’t reuse) recycling.

Defra officials were very impressed and inspired by seeing what these projects are able to deliver on the ground – not only in terms of diverting waste from landfill but in terms of engaging communities, and providing opportunities to the disadvantaged where these might otherwise not be available. There are many such organisations working across the country and you may be inspired to find out about who is working to make a difference in your area!! Finally, we would like to thank all of our hosts and the London Community Resource Network* for their efforts in organising such an interesting day.

* Matthew Thomson is the CEO of LCRN and a member of Defra’s Third Sector Advisory Board

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How Defra is supporting the Low Carbon Communities Challenge

[Guest post by Harriet Festing, Deputy Head, community-led policy making, Department of Energy and Climate Change] 
Over the winter, Grassroots third sector organisations participating in the “UK’s largest citizen-led trial on sustainable living” were given £100,000 from Defra to deliver their citizen engagement plans.  The funding is Defra’s contribution to a cross-government initiative: the Low Carbon Communities Challenge.  The ‘challenge’, which was first announced in September 2009 as part of the UK Low Carbon Transition Plan, involves 22 test bed communities trialling a mix of technological and behavioural approaches within their area, ranging from solar panels and hydro turbines to food growing, electric cars and water saving measures. 

100,000 people live in the areas defined by the 22 communities.  In order to understand both the social (as well as technological) implications of their progress, each community has been appointed an independent facilitator from Dialogue by Design.  The facilitators will work with the communities to help develop their engagement plans and lead a process of structured learning and co-inquiry between the community lead and people living and working in the area.  The co-inquiry element of the Challenge is co-funded by Sciencewise-ERC.  Defra’s contribution – which will be split evenly between the communities – will ensure that they have the funding to deliver on these engagement plans.

In addition to public dialogue, the programme of evaluation includes gathering hard data, and is a test bed for a new, extensive, programme of academic enquiry funded by the UK Research Councils ‘Energy and Communities venture’ worth £7.5m.  The challenge was launched formally in February 2010 and lasts for two years.  The findings seek to inform Government policymaking.

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Climate Change: Taking Action

Climate change: taking action cover
In July 2009, the Government published the UK Low Carbon Transition Plan (LCTP). Part of the LCTP was to give each major government department a share of the responsibility to reduce the UK’s greenhouse gas emissions. Since publication of the LCTP, the Government has developed the system of departmental carbon budgets. Today (31/3/10), the Government published “Climate Change: Taking Action” which sets out further details on departmental carbon budgets, the process by which the government will monitor progress and information about an appropriate management framework to drive delivery.

The document, in two parts, also details the actions being taken by departments to adapt to the most pressing climate change impacts. 

Eighteen government departments have produced a Carbon Reduction Delivery Plan (CRDP). Defra’s plan is here. Each plan sets out, in detail, the actions each department will take on its own and in collaboration with other departments to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Links to each of these plans can be found below.

Read More »

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‘The Moment for Mutualism’ published

New Mutualism report cover
HM Government today announced the publication of a new report entitled ‘the Moment for Mutualism’.

The report recognises that over the past two years confidence in some of the longstanding financial institutions has been significantly undermined and there is widespread feeling that organisations and leaders have lost touch with the people they serve.  People want more control and not just over financial services or the political system.  Whether in healthcare, schools, policing or a range of other public services, people want to have a greater say in how services are run.

Extending and enhancing the role of ‘mutuals’ in the delivery of public services is one important way to enhance and increase citizen engagement.  Mutuals are organisations controlled by and run for the benefit of their members and are characterised by democratic governance arrangements.

This report considers the value of enhancing and extending the role of mutuals in the organisation and delivery of public services, in particular the potential for mutuals to encourage and facilitate more citizen participation and engagement, building stronger relationships between citizens and public service professionals.

The paper highlights three specific examples of how the development of mutualism could be encouraged and facilitated across the following key public services:

  • Health and social care;
  • Children’s Centres;
  • Social Housing.

For further information and to download the report, please use this link (PDF 156 KB) to visit the HM Government website.

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Funding avaliable for third sector organisations: to inspire sustainable living using the Olympic and Paralympic Games as inspiration.

Defra has today launched a Third Sector Fund to Inspire Sustainable Living using the Olympic and Paralympic Games.  

The funding will be available to third sector led projects, that will use the 2012 London Olympic and Paralympic Games to inspire Sustainable Living, specifically in the areas of:

  • Active travel (walking and cycling more);
  • Sustainable consumption – e.g. eco products or local and seasonal food;
  • Greener gardens/local areas;
  • More efficient resource use – particularly energy and water;
  • Waste less – recycle more.

The expectation is that the funded organisations will have fully developed an intervention that will lead to the adoption of greener behaviours by communities and individuals and they will have built the capacity of the project to continue the delivery of its outputs up to 2012 and beyond.  At the end of March 2011, the beneficiaries will be required to submit a progress report and to account for how they have used the funding for Defra.

The funding will be seedcorn funding, for a year.  However we will explore developing how we can work with projects in subsequent years by making linkages between other Government Departmental projects around the Olympics and seek ways of providing other forms of support, to help the projects deliver their outputs.  Going forwards we intend to hold a series of workshops exploring the types of resources that would be useful to organisations bidding for the funding.

If you would like further information you are invited to visit this page on the Defra website.  The relevant forms will be made avaliable in due course to those organisations that register an interest on the site.  The press announcement, made by environment Minister Dan Norris can be found here.

This fund discharges action number 34 in “Shaping our Future”, the joint Ministerial and third sector Task Force on Climate Change, the Environment and Sustainable Development, which is: “In 2010 Defra has earmarked funding for activities focused on supporting individuals and communities to adopt more sustainable behaviours using the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic games as an inspiration. The funding is for one year only but the intention is that it will catalyse activities that will extend up to 2012 and beyond.”

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New business opportunities in waste and resource management.

On 16 March Hilary Benn announced a new report, entitled “Less is More: Business Opportunities in Waste and Resource Management’.  The report can be downloaded from Defra’s waste and recycling pages.  The report has been produced  jointly between Defra and the Department for Business working with the waste management sector and industry more widely.

The report outlines opportunities for business across the product supply chain, from design through to waste management.

Launching the report, Hilary Benn said:

What’s good for the environment can be good for business. There are real opportunities for British companies who can lead the way in innovative product design and supply systems. We need to be smarter about re-using and recycling waste, getting the full value from our resources rather than simply dumping it in landfill.

If you are interested in this report, please be sure to have a look at this post, which introduces some other Defra reports, on the benefits of third sector organisations in waste management, and the impacts and opportunities for social enterprises in sustainable waste and resources management.

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Budget 2010 announcements relevant to Defra and the third sector.

On the 24th March 2010, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Alastair Darling, announced the Budget 2010

The budget contrained a number of announcements relevant to the third sector.  Full details are set out on this page of the Office of the Third Sector’s website.  Key proposals include the development of a Social Investment Wholesale Bank, support for Social Impact Bond pilots, a consultation on options to make sure banks make an appropriate contribution to community lenders and a number of business support schemes to SMEs including social enterprises. 

Full details of the budget can be found on the HMT website.  The announcements with specific relevance to Defra’s remit are: 

The Chancellor has announced a continuation of the landfill tax escalator of £8/tonne in April 2014. The landfill tax rate for standard-rated wastes will be £80/tonne for the 2014/15 financial year and he has also announced that this will not reduce Read More »

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‘Real Growers’ launched.

The Real Ideas Organisation (RIO) and Plan-it Earth Environmental Project have announced the launch of Real Growers, a new social enterprise venture which will see local people learn new skills in food production and sustainable living.

Real Growers is a social enterprise which has been set up as part of RIO’s delivery of the Future Jobs Fund in Cornwall.  The Future Jobs Fund is a Government challenge fund set up by the Department for Work and Pensions to create new jobs primarily for 18-24 year olds who have been out of work for nearly a year to deliver real benefits for communities. 

The six Real Grower trainees will develop, plant and harvest a large area of the existing Plan-it Earth environmental site in Sancreed near Penzance, with the aim of providing the local community with weekly vegetable boxes through the CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) Box Scheme.

Further information can be found on the RiSE website.

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Plunkett to lead in support of community pubs


Pubs Minister John Healey announced a 12 point action plan on 18 March to give practical support to community pubs up and down the country, backed by £4million in government funding to address the problem of nearly 40 pubs closing each week, leaving many communities without a pub.

The Plunkett Foundation, who are a member of  our Social Enterprise Strategic Partnership, is leading on the Community-Owned Pubs Support Programme which is a key part of the action plan.

The Community-Owned Pubs Support Programme is a partnership to support 50 urban and rural communities to set up and run a community-owned pub over three years.  The £3.3m programme will provide grants to communities matched with loans from Co-operative and Community Finance and a contribution from the communities themselves. Alongside funding, the programme will provide a range of advice and support to communities to help them through the process of setting up a community-owned pub.  Further information can be found in the  news release on the Plunkett Foundation website.

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