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Zero Carbon Communities Grant scheme: successful projects

A number of community groups across Uttlesford were successful in applying for funding in the first round of our Zero Carbon Community Grant Scheme.

In the first round of the Zero Carbon Communities Grant scheme in early 2023 we awarded funding to 11 community projects.

The projects sought to:

  • reduce carbon emissions
  • enhance biodiversity, or
  • support community engagement in climate change

Successful projects

The projects that have been awarded funding are:

Wicken Bonhunt St Margaret's Church and Community Centre - solar panel instillation

Wicken Bonhunt Parish Council have been awarded £15,000.00 as part of the 2023 Zero Carbon Communities Grant.

This project involves the installation of a ground mounted solar energy system consisting of 24 Trina Solar Panels and incorporating 6.0kWh battery storage at St Margaret's Church and Community centre.

Felsted Parish Council - biodiversity survey of grassed areas

Felsted Parish Council have been awarded £1,200.00 as part of the 2023 Zero Carbon Communities Grant for a Biodiversity Survey of Parish Council Grassed Areas.

This project will involve the assessment of grassed areas by Essex Wildlife Trust which will result in plan as to how best to manage the previously mown areas to increase biodiversity.

Birchanger Wood Trust - rewilding native pollinators with managed forest hives

Birchanger Wood Trust has been awarded £3,451.00 for a project to install bee swarm boxes in Birchanger Wood to provide a home for the native bee colonies that swarm. By establishing native wild bee colonies, they can support native bees develop resistant to existing and emerging pathogens that are posing a risk to the native bee population.

Birchanger Woods bee box

Find out more about the new bee boxes on the Birchanger Wood Trust website.

Stebbing Tennis Club - replacement of existing halogen court lighting for low energy LED light fittings

Stebbing Tennis Club has received £14,750.00 from the 2023 Zero Carbon Communities Grant. This project is to change the existing halogen tennis court floodlight to new low energy LED lighting units.

Rickling Green Ponds - pond clearance

Quendon and Rickling Parish Council have been awarded £5,425.00 from the 2023 Zero Carbon Communities Grant.

This project will involve clearance work on two Rickling Green ponds; one on the village green and one in Brick Kiln Lane, hoping to increase biodiversity and habitat quality.

Littlebury Energy Project phase 2 - Saffron Walden Community energy


Saffron Walden Community energy have been awarded £34,000.00 towards the next phase of the Littlebury Energy Project decarbonisation plan.

The project will aim to create concrete plans for decarbonisation and start to implement these plans. There are 2 main areas:

  • domestic energy savings and retrofit measures in the move to low carbon heating
  • community scale renewable energy generation to help power Littlebury's homes

Littlebury Community Energy project

Reaching net zero carbon emissions will require a huge change in the way that our energy is produced and distributed, including much more localised energy generation, and far greater focus on energy efficiency. It is not just large organisations who can make a difference here. Community energy draws on local skills and people power to create community-based solutions to the climate crisis.

Over the past 2 years Essex County Council (ECC) and Community Energy South have mentored Saffron Walden Community Energy, a local non-profit organisation, to kick start a CommuniPower project in Littlebury village.

Littlebury Parish Council had expressed interest in developing a Community Energy Plan to investigate how a village could transition from mainly oil based heating. CommuniPower aims to find the optimal solution to switch to low-carbon power and heating. The project will help the community to take real ownership of their energy, develop greater resilience and provide the model for other rural communities to become sustainable in a way that is achievable and affordable for all.

The problem

  • Lots of listed and historic buildings which present retrofit challenges
  • The age of buildings means most have very poor EPC ratings and bad energy efficiency
  • Over 80% homes use off-grid oil
  • Most houses lack proper insulation or effective heating methods
  • Upgrades need to be done sensitively, as cheaply as possible, and to retain the historic charm of most buildings
  • Only 6 out of the 70 households have some form of renewable technology; 2 with air source heat pumps while 4 have solar panels (PV)

Phase 1

In phase 1 of the project the village has produced an initial Community Energy Plan (PDF) [4MB] to prepare them for CommuniPower.

The next steps for the Littlebury Energy Project include individual zero carbon initiatives and projects for some groups of properties including:

  • thermal imaging of homes to ascertain where heat is being lost
  • retrofit measures: such as solar PV and Air-Source Heat Pump
  • listed home restoration
  • community wide initiatives
  • regular village energy information events
  • starting a bulk-buying club for solar PV etc.
  • providing support for residents applying for grants
  • joining the CommuniHeat programme (In- depth analysis of homes within the village)
  • establishing a local listed building renovation group to gain collective expertise and share knowledge
  • exploring the potential for Heat networks (or district heating) supply heat for hot water and space heating to multiple homes from a central source via underground pipes, usually through a heat exchanger connected to a domestic radiator circuit

The village is also working with partners to seek industry funding to become a leading pilot for CommuniHeat, developing and implementing a detailed energy transition plan for the whole community, and one that could be replicated for other villages in the district.

Case study; solar PV installed in Littlebury

An example of a 3.6kWp solar photovoltaic (PV) system installed on a south­ east facing roof.

We had PV panels fitted in 2018 by Solarbarn, a local company. A very good, well planned installation. We use quite a lot of electricity, and the panels have supplied about half our annual consumption each year.It's a SE facing roof,max 3.6KW output array. The output is high enough to, for example, cook breakfast, then power the washing machine plus background usage, fridge etc., for about 7 months of the year.

Financially, maximising self consumption makes most sense, so we have a Solar iBoost device that diverts surplus output to the immersion heater before anything is exported to the grid. In practice it means almost all our (usually five people) domestic hot water is heated by PV for much of the year.

The headline production/consumption figures, averages for three full years:

Total production: 4.0MWh

Self consumption: 3.1MWh

Exported: 0.9MWH

Percentage exported: 22%

Explore more energy saving advice on the Saffron Walden Community Energy website.

Sustainable Stansted - engaging the community in climate change and biodiversity loss

Stansted Mountfitchet Parish Council have been awarded £2,000.00 from the 2023 Zero Carbon Communities Grant for their Sustainable Stansted - Engaging the community in climate change & biodiversity loss in the area project.

The project is a community-led project aimed at engaging the Community and trying to understand the concerns that local people have about climate change and to work in and with the community to coordinate learning and action on climate change.

Household Energy Saving Group

The Household Energy Saving Group  will be focusing their activities on providing information to householders from the autumn., This will include:

  • frequent Facebook and website postings on energy saving measures
  • the design, printing and distribution of a leaflet outlining tips for householders to save energy, money and the planet - 3,000 copies will be delivered by members of the group to households in Stansted in October and a further 2,000 copies will be dropped into to local shops, pubs and other places visited by the public
  • energy saving "clinics" to provide information to interested residents, and to seek proactively opportunities to
  • attending meetings of various, local groups such as WIs, Touchpoint and schools

Community outreach

The Sustainable Stansted team have set up an online and hard copy survey to obtain residents' views.

Take part in the Sustainable Stansted climate change survey.

They have also been attending events in the community such as:

  • Coronation Fete in Stansted in May
  • Music in the Park event in July

And they have been writing articles for The Link and The Stansted Flyer as well as regularly adding to their Facebook and website pages.

Find more information and updates on the Sustainable Stansted website.

Mill Lane Playing Field Stebbing - nature and biodiversity project


Stebbing Parish Council have been awarded £2,200.00 from the 2023 Zero Carbon Communities Grant. This is for a nature and Biodiversity Project at Mill Lane Playing Field, Stebbing.

This project aims to create a community nature area to:

  • make a significant improvement in biodiversity
  • make a positive impact on climate change through professional woodland management
  • encourage community engagement through design involvement and planting schemes
  • have an educational benefit through habitat/tree signage and local school activities
  • provide use of recycled wood from felling for use as pathways

Progress update

Phase 1

Work commenced on this project on 5 July 2023 and was expected to take one week to complete. The main works were completed in this period, however the bark infill for the path was not available until the following week and the works were finally completed on the 21st July. An additional gate with rabbit proofing was also installed from the cricket pitch to the woodland walk in the same period.

The contractor, Falcon Tree Specialists, have enhanced the woodland walk by creating small ponds with a dam to capture the natural springs that appear in the area along with a wetland walkway for visitors to walk over the overspill from the ponds. They have also created natural habitats along the route using rotten branches and surplus soils. In the lower area a circular path has been created with log seating should anyone wish to rest and enjoy the surroundings.

The project team have created a video of the new woodland walk.

The woodland walk has been named by the parish council as "The Kingdom Woodland Walk" after Michael Kingdom who was instrumental in its concept. Signs will be erected identifying this walk specifically, however they will take a little longer to procure and install.

Keep up to date with progress on the Kingdom Woodland Walk on the Stebbing Parish Council website.

Phase 2

With Phase 1 of the project completed the next action is to find volunteers and create a plan for its flora & fauna and wildlife development.

The grant received from UDC has inspired the Stebbing project team to change what was a derelict woodland into a vibrant benefit for their community.

Wimbish Parish Council - rewilding sites

Wimbish Parish Council have been awarded £5,000.00 from the 2023 Zero Carbon Communities Grant scheme.

This project is for several different sites. Lucy May Field: Wildflower meadow and Village Allotments. Ellis Common: Wildflower meadow. Maypole Corner Common: wildflower meadow and pond restoration and a recreation Ground Wildlife Belt.

Radwinter Community Pavilion - solar panels

Radwinter Recreation Ground Charity have been awarded £7,500.00 from the 2023 Zero Carbon Communities Grant.

This project is to install solar panels onto the roof of the community pavilion and install a battery inside.

Stansted Mountfitchet Parish Council - LED street lighting

Stansted Mountfitchet Parish Council have been awarded £34,900.00 from the 2023 Zero Carbon Communities Grant.

This project will involve the conversion of 100 Sodium powered Streetlights to LED energy efficient ones.


In total, £125,000 in grants have been allocated in year 1 of the grants scheme. The list of successful projects was approved by the Cabinet meeting on 16 March following an evaluation and selection process.