East Midlands Airport launches £120,000 schools’ eco-garden fund

Schools' eco-garden project launch
EMA schools' eco-garden launch
  • Participating schools encouraged to highlight how an eco-garden can improve biodiversity, as well as enhancing outdoor learning, recreational use and improving wellbeing.
  • Grants of up to £20,000 available for schools to turn designs into reality
  • Schools eligible to apply are those located within East Midlands Airport’s Community Fund ‘area of benefit
Group shot at EM

East Midlands Airport (EMA) has launched a project to encourage schools to design and ultimately create eco-gardens.

Participating schools will be asked to submit designs for gardens or green space that substantially improve biodiversity. The submissions judged to have the most positive environmental impact will be awarded funds to turn designs into reality.

A share of £120,000 is up for grabs with the winning schools each eligible for grants of up to £20,000 depending on the scale of the project. The money has been made available from EMA’s Community Fund which was established in April 2002 to support initiatives in places which are most affected by the airport’s operation. To date, over £1.3m has been awarded to more than 1,500 community groups, supporting initiatives such as equipment for sports clubs and village halls to heritage restoration projects such as church clocks.

The eco-garden competition, which coincides with the 20th anniversary of the launch of the community fund, runs until 27 May. It is open to any school within the community fund ‘area of benefit’ which covers approximately a radius of 8-10 miles from the airport. These are the communities that are most overflown by aircraft approaching and departing EMA.

Designs submitted will be judged by a panel of experts including representatives of the airport’s corporate social responsibility team, Derbyshire Wildlife Trust and the parks, green spaces and environmental management teams at South Derbyshire District Council.

Judges will look for designs that incorporate innovative ways to make any space that schools have environmentally richer and more diverse, whether that’s transforming an area of concrete, improving the biodiversity of a playing field or growing food. Schools that have little outdoor space are urged to consider vertical gardens, making the most of walls and fences. Schools are also encouraged to highlight how an eco-garden could be used for outdoor learning, recreational use and to improve wellbeing.

A further key aim of the project is to create a lasting legacy that can be enjoyed by generations of children to come as well as the wider community.

The project is part of the airport’s long-standing commitment to placing environmental sustainability at the forefront of its operations. Back in 2002, EMA established an industry leading Environmental Management System (EMS) and, in recognition of this, was the first UK airport to be assessed as ISO14001 compliant – an internationally recognised standard for environmental management. Furthermore, the airport’s ground operations achieved carbon neutrality in 2012. In the summer of 2020 MAG, which owns and operates EMA, became a founding member of the Government’s Jet Zero Council, with CEO, Charlie Cornish, sitting as one of only two airport representatives.

Clare James, East Midlands Airport’s Managing Director, says: “Our commitment to improving sustainability and biodiversity extends beyond controlling what we do on our own estate. I urge all eligible schools to get involved in this exciting project which will be hugely beneficial on so many levels. Not only will it lead to the creation of new wonderful and rich green spaces and be a valuable learning experience for the children who participate, but it will also shine a spotlight on the importance of responding to today’s climate challenge. Addressing this is one of my key priorities as I help steer the airport towards recovery from the pandemic. I’m fully focused on how this can be achieved sustainably and to help accelerate our progress towards becoming a Net Zero Carbon business by 2038, and a Net Zero Carbon industry by 2050.”

Diane Gould, Wilder Engagement Team Leader, Derbyshire Wildlife Trust says: “We’re delighted to support East Midlands Airport with this project. Engaging young people with the importance of natural habitat and encouraging them to spend more time outdoors are key aims of the Wildlife Trust. I encourage schools that can take part to embrace this opportunity. Children are very creative, and many are passionate about preserving our world and this is their opportunity to make a difference. As a result of multiple schools taking part, this will help create a network of rich and diverse habitats which will help wildlife flourish across our region.”

Find out more

To find out how to get involved, and access supporting resources, please visit www.eastmidlandsairport.com/eco-garden. Should schools have further questions, please email community@eastmidlandsairport.com