A town and gown initiative aimed at turning St Andrews into one of the greenest communities in the United Kingdom has won a £347,770 cash windfall from the Scottish Government.
The six-figure financial boost follows a successful bid to the Government’s Climate Challenge Fund by St Andrews University’s environmental awareness project, Transition, in conjunction with the local community’s St Andrews Environmental Network (StAndEn).
The two groups now plan to work together to reduce carbon emissions and foster greener behaviour across St Andrews, as part of a three-year project — a scheme which could eventually be rolled out in towns and cities across Scotland.
It is hoped a series of joint initiatives will help to alleviate fuel poverty, build community resilience and capacity, minimise energy, food and water waste and reduce personal carbon footprints. Efforts will also be made to raise awareness and understanding around sustainability issues and work towards a positive, shared vision of a low carbon future within the greater St Andrews area.
Among the key projects will be to engage individual households, including student flats and the surrounding villages, to promote sustainability awareness and offer advice on how not to waste food and water, and also establish a Local Exchange Trading Scheme to reduce waste to landfill.
It is also intended to create community gardens across the area so residents can grow their own food in order to promote awareness of sustainable food choices, promote a healthy relationship with the outdoors and work with the nine local primary schools — seven of which have already signed up - to encourage youngsters from an early age to save energy, food and water and think about sustainability.
In addition, by offering carbon conversations to the whole community, it is hoped to expand support to reduce carbon and stimulate action and create a new St Andrews specific carbon calculator online to promote awareness and action on individual carbon footprints.
Finally, the partnership will organise events including a renewable energy and sustainability fayre and a food festival to spread the message and create opportunities for town and gown to come together.
David Stutchfield, the university’s energy officer, said:“This project builds on the existing close relationship between the university and the St Andrews Community Council project, StAndEn. Together we will enable more carbon saving measures, with university students and staff using their skills outwards to the community, and StAndEN supporting student carbon reductions.”
Dr Rehema White, sustainable development Masters’ programme director in the Department of Geography and Sustainable Development at the university added:“The university has ongoing research and teaching programmes at undergraduate and postgraduate levels in sustainable development, and has been focusing on reducing carbon emissions through different aspects of our operations.
“Transition allows us to also engage students and staff around the university and reflect on our actions in relation to sustainability as well. It is exciting to be able to integrate with the wider community”
Jane Kell, project manager of StAndEn said:“Over the last two years we have had a very good working relationship with Transition. Now, we are embarking on a very exciting new project as equal partners delivering our services to benefit the whole community of St Andrews.”
Both Transition and StAndEn are established groups which have benefitted from CCF funding previously, but which are also deeply embedded with their communities, and have continued during non-funding periods thanks to the work of enthusiastic volunteers.
This is the first jointly funded project the CCF has committed to so far, and it is hoped “St Andrews Communities Working Together” will make a significant and long-lasting impact in reducing carbon emissions and that it will act as a template in for future community projects elsewhere in Scotland.