Money boosts Peak District projects

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Peak District community projects from solar heating to fruit-growing will be boosted by grants from the national park’s Sustainable Development Fund.

In its latest round of grant-allocations the Fund’s panel approved:

* £10,500 to Elton Local History Group to help develop a village guide and trail with leaflets and information boards about its history, ecology and landscape.

* Up to £14,000 to the Cycling for Everyone project along the Monsal Trail. This will include free cycling training for families, schools and community groups, themed rides and bicycle maintenance sessions. The sessions will be run by Pedal Ready, a not-for-profit cycle training co-operative which has already been running successful Cycling Sundays training sessions in Bakewell.

* £15,500 toward solar photo-voltaic panels for the village hall at Waterhouses, Staffordshire. After suffering severe problems with its current heating system, this could be a lifeline for the hall to stay open for community use.

* Up to £10,000 toward the Off the Ground project at the Farming Life Centre, Blackwell, near Buxton. This one-year pilot will promote the use of windfall or other fruit that would otherwise go to waste, helping people make jams and other products from home-grown or wild fruit, and develop their skills in orchard-keeping.

* £3,000 toward a community orchard for Edale, on land owned by the National Trust near the village station. The Sustainable Edale community group also wants to encourage local people to plant fruit trees in their own gardens.

The Peak District National Park’s Sustainable Development Fund supports environmental, educational and social projects that help sustain national park communities. Its panel of local independent assessors decides on grant applications four times a year.

Chair of the fund panel Pauline Beswick said: “These projects demonstrate that despite tough economic times, community vitality is alive and well in the Peak District. Local villages and groups are full of ideas to benefit their communities and if they help promote a healthy future for the Peak District we’re glad to help with seed-money to get them off the ground.”

Applicants are also given advice and help with further sources of funding from Sustainable Development officer Richard Godley. For more information, go to www.peakdistrict.gov.uk/sdf or call 01629 816200.