Zero Carbon Communities Grant guidance notes

Guidance to help you to complete an application for our Zero Carbon Communities Grant.

The Zero Carbon Communities Grant scheme supports communities in Uttlesford to take action on climate change.

All eligible grant applications will be reviewed by a selection panel of members of the Uttlesford District Council Energy and Climate Change Working Group who will make recommendations to the Cabinet for decision. We aim to let applicants know of the decision within 2 months of the application deadline.

Applications are invited for projects under the themes of:

  • carbon emission reduction
  • community engagement in climate change
  • ecological enhancement in your community

Applicants are welcome to apply for more than one project, although it should be noted that allocation of funding will take into account the aim of achieving a good spread of funding across the district.

Project proposals will be scored and prioritised for funding based on how well the answers to the questions fulfil the objectives of the grant award. We really want the grant to stimulate wider engagement around what zero carbon means in each local community.

For projects requesting more than £5,000 we would encourage applicants to seek part funding/in kind contributions in order to score highly. There is no requirement for this, but if the fund is oversubscribed, proposals including funding from other sources will be prioritised. Part-funding can include your own fundraising and can be of monetary and/or in-kind value.

Assessment criteria

Fit to the grant objectives

  1. The project contributes to the reduction of the production of carbon emissions or reduces carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.
  2. The project contributes to restoration, protection or enhancement of biodiversity, and building resilience to climate change
  3. The project achieves wider community engagement and behaviour change around climate change.
  4. The project contributes additional value (e.g. funding contributions; volunteer time/expertise from other sources; collaboration between organisations, and/or evidence of local support; communication of the project to the local community)
  5. The project is sustainable and will have a 'lifetime' impact on the local and wider community.

Measurement and impact

The application must provide a projected measurement for the difference that the project will make.

For Carbon emission reduction this should be a quantifiable reduction in CO2e emissions.

Projects should communicate the benefits of their project to the community.

Project plan and capacity

The grant panel are looking for a clear project description, identifying what the group wants to do and what the project will achieve. The plan must set out how the project will get the necessary people, support and resources.


Does the project represent value for money - is there a good impact for the amount of money requested?

Project reporting

Please note that all projects will be required to report on their progress towards achieving their objectives, 6 months from the date of project completion.

Projects must set out how they will measure and report on how they have met their objectives.

Carbon emission reduction

Community buildings

  • Projects which provide improvements to community buildings to reduce its carbon emissions (e.g. the need for grid electricity, gas or oil).
  • Projects which take a whole-building approach are preferred, considering the 'energy hierarchy' which ranks the stages of using less energy in a building.  Find further information in the Improving energy efficiency in community buildings guidance on the Centre for Sustainable Energy website.
  • We recommend community groups undertake an energy survey before starting a project.
  • Projects which provide additional value by communicating the value of energy efficiency improvements are recommended.
  • Advice on planning permissions should be sought before applying for the grant.

Ideas for community building projects:

  • Energy conservation measures - draught proofing, insulation of walls, ceilings, roofs, floors and pipes and replacing doors or windows.
  • Energy efficiency measures - lighting upgrades, smart heating control units or infrared heating. We will prioritise these where they have been recommended on an energy survey.
  • Air source heat pumps; solar PV and/or battery storage system for solar PV - feasible energy conservation and efficiency measures must have already been undertaken or be planned to be undertaken. We will prioritise schemes where a significant proportion of electricity generated will be used on-site (either through daytime use of the building or through battery storage).

The value of projects on a community building is much greater if it can be used to raise awareness in the wider public about improvements which can be made to homes and other buildings.

We will ask you for your plans to do this, for example by holding an open event, and/or providing an article for your local newsletter. 

Nature and ecological restoration

Projects involving nature-based solutions to help combat climate change, restore habitats or increase biodiversity.

Projects which provide additional value by communicating the value of nature-based solutions are recommended.

Projects which are evidence led and encourage a 'network way of thinking' rather than concentrating on sites in isolation. Please see the 10 principles for the planning of resilient nature networks design in Nature Networks - a summary for practitioners on the Natural England website.

When designing your project, you could involve local wildlife groups, including the Essex Wildlife Trust, who may be able to provide data and information on the condition of local wildlife assets and give guidance on how they should be managed to increase their resilience and condition. They may also have information on rare or priority habitats and protected species within your neighbourhood and a local biodiversity action plan.

Where planting is on private land, consideration must be given to the ways in which the community will benefit, for example by way of access or landscape value. We would also like to see how the nature area or habitat will be preserved in the future if land ownership changes.


  • Projects which engage the community to reduce the reliance on car travel, encouraging walking, cycling and low carbon transport.
  • Projects which can demonstrate how they will encourage people to walk or cycle more with the installation of structures, as well as the need and demand for the project.
  • Community cycling events - funding for events or projects that promote sustainable lifestyle choices, or cycling
  • Cycle shelters or stands - cycling infrastructure improvements which encourage cycling connectivity around the district on publicly accessible land. The cost of installation can be included. Advice on planning permissions required for the shelter must be sought prior to applying
  • Electric vehicle charging points

Campaigns and education

Projects which engage the community to encourage them to reduce their carbon emissions through waste and recycling, diet or interacting with nature.

Projects which can demonstrate how they can engage people and evidence a change in behaviours through volunteering etc.

Ideas for campaigns and education:

  • food waste reduction projects - such as recycling or composting campaigns
  • community allotment projects - to encourage people to grow their own food and engage with nature
  • creation or enhancement of a community nature area - to encourage people to engage with biodiversity
  • biodiversity mapping - to encourage people to get out into nature and engage with nature
  • climate festival - to showcase climate action and engage others to take action

Full list of eligibility criteria

Who can apply for a Zero Carbon Communities grant

  • Any parish or town council within the Uttlesford District
  • Any formally constituted community group or community interest company working within the Uttlesford District
  • Any 'not for profit' groups that are not formally constituted but that are supported by a constituted mainstream service, town or parish council or community group willing to administer funds through an organisational bank account

How much can be applied for

Applications are invited for a minimum of £1,000 and up to £35,000 per project.

How will the grant be paid?

A funding agreement will be prepared for all successful applicants. This will include arrangements for payment of the grant.

Please note that funding will not be paid for activities that have already taken place.

What we fund

As well as capital costs, we can fund:

  • salaries of project workers
  • salaries of management staff who supervise project staff. These should be in proportion to the staff time spent on the project
  • reasonable expenses of project staff and volunteers
  • marketing and publicity for the project (as appropriate).

We cannot pay for:

  • activities, events or services which have already taken place, including staff development time
  • activities that benefit individuals, rather than the wider community
  • activities that generate profits for private gain
  • religious activity or content (although we are able to fund religious organisations if they are providing benefit for the wider community)
  • activities that replace government funding (for example, we can only fund school activities that are additional to the curriculum)
  • renewable energy installations where it is intended to claim Renewable Heat Incentive payments, or any such payments where the use of public grants renders the installation ineligible for such payments
  • loan repayments

Where funds allocated through the scheme can be spent on local businesses this is welcomed.

What are the conditions of funding?

Organisations that are awarded a grant will be expected to comply with the following conditions as a minimum:

  • funding must only be used for the agreed purpose and must be spent within 12-months of the award being made except where exceptional circumstances apply and an extension is agreed with the grants officer in writing
  • where a proposal anticipates financial savings or income, the applicant will need to show this will be for the benefit of the community
  • publicity must take place acknowledging the award provided by Uttlesford District Council
  • any unused grant must be returned to Uttlesford District Council
  • an end of project report with photographs must be submitted to the council within 3 months of project completion

In addition, all projects must follow national legislation, guidance and good practice in relation to:

  • equality and diversity
  • health and safety
  • safeguarding