Sustainable Development Fund



The Cotswolds AONB Sustainable Development Fund is a regional grants scheme, available to individuals, groups or businesses that have ideas or projects that will improve the Cotswolds both now and in the future.

The Fund aims to encourage and support community-based projects that look to provide a clear benefit to the Cotswolds AONB, with particular focus on the environment, community and/or local economy. Applicants are not required to be based in the AONB, however, all projects must be able to demonstrate the positive impacts on the Cotswolds.

The Cotswolds AONB Sustainable Development Fund is coordinated and managed by the Cotswolds Conservation Board with resources provided by Natural England (DEFRA).

What is Sustainable Development?

Sustainable development in the Cotswolds AONB will promote, enhance (and conserve) the environmental, economic and community well being of the area to ensure an improved quality of life for everyone, now and for future generations.

 Achieving sustainable development will normally require working towards four, interconnected, goals:

  • social progress which meets the needs of everyone
  • protecting and enhancing the environment
  • ensuring a diverse and prosperous rural economy (which supports the conservation and enhancement of the area's special qualities)
  • the prudent use of natural resources.
Individual projects can place particular emphasis on any one of these four goals. Ideally, they should seek to make progress on all of them, but must demonstrate no negative impact on any.
A sample sustainability checklist can be downloaded from the Conservation Board’s website. Completing this list will help you assess how well your project fits the fund’s criteria

Distribution of SDF grants in the Cotswolds AONB

How much is available?

Grants are usually awarded for 50% of project costs. However, this can be extended to 75% for projects led by non-profit making organizations. Grants ranging from a few hundred pounds up to £13,000 are available.

Projects can include the use of volunteers as an ‘in-kind’ contribution towards the total project cost.

Who can apply?

Public, private, voluntary sector, individuals, businesses or community groups can apply. Individuals or businesses can only be beneficiaries where the project shows a clear benefit to the wider community

What type of projects are eligible?

Projects must meet ALL of the essential criteria and at least ONE of the desirable criteria listed below. Examples of previous projects funded through the SDF scheme can be viewed on this page.

Essential criteria
  • Help deliver the Cotswolds Conservation Board’s Management Plan for the AONB. This means that the project must address ONE or more of the following issues:

    • Landscape and Geology;
    • Biodiversity
    • Historic Environment
    • Sustainable Resources
    • Living and Working in the Cotswolds
    • Farming and Rural Land Use
    • Forestry, Woodland and Trees
    • Tourism, Recreation and Access
    • Transport
    • Planning & Development

  • Further the purposes of the AONB to conserve and enhance natural beauty of the area.
  • promote sustainable development
  • have the demonstrable support or involvement of communities
  • be complementary to key local, regional or national strategies
  • funding cannot be retrospective
Desirable criteria
  • demonstrate innovation or best practice
  • link community, economy, culture and environment
  • develop skills and “capacity building” in the community
  • involve young people
  • combat social exclusion and promote diversity
  • bring organisations and people together to co-operate in tackling problems or promoting new ideas
  • encourage links between rural and urban groups
  • lever in contributions from other sources
  • have little access to alternative public funding
  • add value or new dimensions to existing sustainability projects

Application process

Applicants are initially encouraged to discuss their idea for a project with the Sustainable Development Officer to ensure the project is suitable for an SDF grant.

Projects valued at £2,500 or over
Applicants are asked to submit a brief project proposal outlining the project aims and outcomes. Proposals with a project cost of over £2,500 are referred to the Grants Sub-committee for consideration. Members have a range of interests and experience. Applications will be assessed against the fund’s aims and criteria. If the committee decides the proposal is a suitable SDF project then the applicant will be encouraged to submit an application form, further detailing the project budget and intended targets. Applicants will then be notified of the Sub-committee’s decision within 2 weeks of the Grants Sub-committee meeting.

Projects valued under £2,500
Projects valued under £2,500 are asked to submit a project proposal and application form as above. However, in this instance, applications are decided upon by the Sustainable Development Fund Officer.
Who to contact
Please contact David Molloy, Rural Skills and Grants Officer, on 01451 862002 or via email to discuss you project idea or to find out more about the Sustainable Development Fund.




Previous Projects

Project Name: Evesham Beekeepers Association

Total project cost: £2,292
SDF Grant awarded: £1,492
Description: In 2009 this exciting project was awarded an SDF grant of £1492 from the Cotswolds AONB Sustainable Development Fund to contribute towards the purchase of 6 new beehives, based at Pershore College, Worcestershire.
The aim of the project was to provide a suitable site to train new and existing beekeepers in the best practice techniques of beekeeping management.
The grant provided by the Sustainable Development Fund, along with the contribution of the Evesham Beekeeping association members, who spent 5 days clearing the site and erecting the hives, have helped to make this project a buzzing success!!


Project Name: Effective Initiatives – ‘Smarter Choices’ Roadshow

Total project cost: £7,440
SDF Grant awarded: £5,560
Description: The Smarter Choices roadshow is a travelling roadshow organized and run by charity group ‘Effective Initiatives’. The roadshows, which visit schools, colleges and community centers, aim to inform children and adults about the viable options to motorized transport. This is achieved through practical demonstrations which allow participants the opportunity to try out eco-friendly vehicles such as electrically powered bicycles and scooters.
The grant received from the SDF helped to fund seven ‘Smarter Choices ‘roadshows which visited schools and town centres in the Cotswolds AONB during February and March 2010.
For more information visit on Effective Initiatives and the Smarter Choices Roadshows visit


Project name: ‘Forests for the future’ project – Westonbirt Arboretum (Forestry Commission)

Total project cost: £14,859
SDF Grant awarded: £7,373
Description: ‘Forests for the Future’ was an educational programme funded though the Cotswolds Sustainable Development Fund in 2009.
The programme, ran by The Westonbirt Arboretum (Forestry Commission) aimed to educate people on issues such as sustainable forestry, trees and climate change.
This was achieved through the development and use of an informative DVD, aptly named ‘The World is Hot Enough’, along with the design and production of banners and educational activities which were initially showcased at the Arboretum’s science based marquee called ‘Laboratree’ during the Festival of the Tree event held at the Arboretum In August 2009.
The SDF grant, received by the Arboretum, helped to fund the purchase of these educational resources and to deliver a climate change and woodland management educational programme which will be delivered to the 240 schools per year that visit the Arboretum.
The ‘World is Hot Enough’ can be viewed by following the link below;


Project name: Green Energy Project – National Trust, Ebworth

Total project cost: £78,000
SDF Grant awarded: £4668
Description: In 2009 the Cotswolds AONB awarded a grant of £4668 to the National Trust’s Ebworth Centre to go towards the installation of a new biomass and solar thermal heating system. The biomass boiler, fuelled by logs harvested from the Trust’s estate, will provide heating and hot water for five properties at the centre and will drastically reduce the centre’s carbon emissions. An interpretation board has also been installed on the site to inform people about the energy saving systems in operation at Ebworth.


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