Guest Blog: The National Lottery Community Fund - remember to consider your environmental impact when applying for funding

9 Jan 2023 Sandra Bailie    Last updated: 13 Jan 2023

Mark Creaney, from The National Lottery Community Fund (NLCF), talks about how the largest community funder across the UK is supporting communities who are seeking to minimise their impact on the environment.

We know that communities want to do their part to look after the environment, but sometimes with rising cost-of-living demands many don't have the resources or time.

We have adapted our systems and processes to ensure we are mindful of environmental impact when it comes to distributing National Lottery funding. We also encourage groups and organisations, thinking of applying to us, to take environmental considerations on board when developing their project idea.

What we have done as an employer/organisation

Over the past few years, we have been reducing our own environmental footprint by reducing the amount of waste we divert to landfill and improving our recycling rates. We’ve reduced paper and ink by decreasing printing volumes and introduced new technology to enable colleagues to work from home. We also introduced innovative technology to allow video-conferencing to eliminate the need to print documents and to reduce travelling to meetings. Find out more about what we have been doing here.

What we have done as a funder

We all have a responsibility to protect the environment for future generations - this includes the communities and projects we support. We want to support communities to do their bit to reduce their environmental impact, especially in reducing carbon emissions, the main driver of climate change.

As part of The National Lottery Community Fund’s Environment Strategy, the £100 million Climate Action Fund was launched in 2019 to support communities to take the lead in tackling the climate emergency. More information on our Climate Action work can be found on our website.

We also explored ways that we can support existing customers to mitigate their impact on the climate through our environment top-up scheme. This scheme awarded grants totalling £146,000 to 17 projects to install small scale renewable energy technology to reduce their carbon emissions and save them money on their bills.

Funding supported these projects in terms of cost savings. Over £16,000 (based on February 2022 prices) was saved in running costs by introducing greener alternatives. Action Renewables also estimated that the annual C02 emissions saved by these 17 community buildings would be equivalent to the amount of C02 removed from the atmosphere by 30 acres of forest. You can read more about this initiative in our blog.

What we have funded

The environmental considerations groups take on board will depend on the type of project and the activity that they are seeking funding for. There isn’t a one size fits all approach. Here are details of some projects we have supported recently.

  • Survivors of Trauma received just under £65,000 to refurbish their shared community space. While completing the work they installed solar panels offering a cleaner alternative which reduced both their carbon footprint and the financial burden of increasing energy costs.
  • Footprints Women’s Centre received a top of grant of £9,033 as part of a larger project to install an 8KW solar panel which has reduced their outgoings while reducing their environmental footprint.
  • Rural Health Partnership also received a top up grant of £4,010 to install a 4.23 kWp PV system to reduce their carbon footprint and lower their bills.
  • The Acorn Farm, run in partnership with Derry City and Strabane District Council, the Conservation Volunteers and University College Cork, received £200,000 through the Climate Action Fund. Their ‘I Can Grow project’, mentors 260 families on how to grow their own fruit and veg over an 18-month period. Those involved are encouraged to take up tools and learn the basics of food production at home.
  • North West Play Resource Centre received £149,362, also through Climate Action Fund, for their Artitude: Climate, Culture, Circularity project. This project works with communities across the Derry City and Strabane council area using the arts to gauge current understanding of and perceptions of waste and climate issues. The project supports people to come up with suggestions for change, in addition to creating and delivering activities that can change behaviours and attitudes. This work will cumulate in an Artitude Festival in 2023 and will include public campaigns, a volunteer programme, a conference to share learning and the publishing of useful resources.

Things you should consider before applying

We’ve updated the funding programme pages on our website to encourage communities to consider their environmental footprint when they are planning, developing and shaping their project ideas. We may ask you more about this when we review your application so have a think about the environmental impact of your work when you are developing and shaping your project idea.

If you are thinking of applying for National Lottery funding, here’s some things you might consider:

  • If your project involves travel you could promote the use of electric vehicles, public transport or encourage active travel (like walking or cycling) where possible.
  • Did you know that the National Lottery Awards for All can fund green technology such as solar panels? If you plan to renew a heating system or power source in your venue, have you thought about how the installation of green technology such as solar panels or heat pumps? These will save you money in the long run and they are also kinder to the environment.
  • Have you considered growing your own food? Food systems are responsible for around one-quarter (26%) of global greenhouse gas emissions. This includes emissions from land use change, on-farm production, processing, transport, packaging, and retail. Growing your own food or sourcing food for your project locally will have an impact.
  • Can you work with like-minded organisations to share costs, resources, venues or equipment? Can you locally source products and/or equipment for your project such as arts and crafts, building supplies or digital technology instead of getting them shipped from other parts of the world? Doing this will have an impact on waste and consumption and save you money.
  • How can you improve outdoor spaces and environments? If you’re developing a capital project, have you considered the environmental aspect of your building spec and the materials required? We are less likely to fund tarmac or concrete so would encourage applicants to think about greener alternatives like permeable paving or something similar.

Chat to us for support

As always, our team are happy to chat to groups who are developing and shaping their project ideas. I would encourage anyone thinking of applying to get in touch to chat through your options. Groups can contact us by calling 028 9055 1455 or by dropping us an email at [email protected]

There are also several groups in Northern Ireland who can provide groups with advice and assistance on exploring their environmental footprint; Northern Ireland Environment Link (NIEL)Keep Northern Ireland BeautifulAction RenewablesUlster Wildlife, The Conservation Volunteers and  Northern Ireland Resources Network are just a few of these.'s picture
by Sandra Bailie

Head of Organisational Development

[email protected]

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