Sustainable Development Fund
The Sustainable Development Fund was a national government initiative for National Parks and AONBs, started in 2005-6, and funded by Defra. In the Shropshire Hills AONB the Sustainable Development Fund ran for ten years, with a total of £478,616 awarded in grants to 152 projects, generating over £1 million worth of match funding and achieving an enormous amount for the area. Applicants included organisations, businesses and individuals, and projects had to demonstrate sustainable development practice and benefits to the AONB. The legacy of many of the projects continues – many small groups started with a small simple grant from SDF and have gone on to more ambitious schemes. Many groups and projects also benefited from networking and links with other projects supported by the Fund. Projects had to complete a simple Sustainability Appraisal, and the Fund resulted in a great deal of raised awareness and understanding.
Priority areas for the Fund included:
- Conserving threatened wildlife or heritage features in the landscape.
- Educational and awareness-raising activities relating to the AONB and its environment, especially involving young people.
- More sustainable use of resources, especially in relation to farming and land management.
- Connecting sustainable farming with landscape, food and health, including broadening community involvement and understanding.
- Climate change, energy conservation and renewable energy.
- Sustainable transport
- Influencing patterns of recreational use by visitors and locals towards sustainability
In 2015, following loss of government funding, SDF was replaced locally by the Shropshire Hills AONB Conservation Fund.