East Midlands Airport’s schools’ eco-garden project funding announced


East Midlands Airport (EMA) has announced over £120,000 of funding to schools across the region that entered an eco-garden competition.

Eco garden launch - 7

Earlier this year (in March) the airport launched a project to encourage schools to design and ultimately create eco-gardens. Participating schools were asked to submit designs for gardens or green spaces that substantially boost biodiversity and lead to improved wellbeing.

Twenty-six schools from across Derbyshire, Leicestershire and Nottinghamshire submitted designs. The proposals have been evaluated by a panel of experts which included representatives of the airport’s corporate social responsibility team, Derbyshire Wildlife Trust and the parks, green spaces and environmental management team at South Derbyshire District Council.

The submissions were assessed against several criteria. The designs needed to demonstrate how the gardens would make existing space environmentally richer and more diverse, improve biodiversity, stimulate outdoor learning, and have wellbeing benefits.

A wide range of designs were submitted with proposals ranging from creating wetlands,  living classrooms, sensory gardens, vegetable patches and wheelchair accessible green spaces.

Such was the standard of entries that the judges decided to award funding to all schools that participated. Some will be awarded the exact amount of funding that they asked for while others will be given support to refine their designs to maximise biodiversity and wildlife benefits. The cost of these will then be re-evaluated and schools will be awarded the appropriate funding to deliver these schemes.

Furthermore, all schools will benefit from support by Derbyshire Wildlife Trust, paid for by the airport, to help deliver the schemes.  

Chris Worman, Parks and Green Spaces Manager at South Derbyshire District Council, and an assessor, said: “One of the key aims of this project was to engage young people about the importance of protecting and enhancing the environment by creating rich and diverse green space. This project has clearly done that and what is clear from all submissions is the passion that young people have for doing their bit to protect the planet. The message that came across loud and clear from children’s video testimonies is that more needs to be done which fills me with hope that the world is in good hands with our future generations.”

Diane Gould of Derbyshire Wildlife Trust, who was also a judge and will be mentoring schools as they turn their designs into reality, said: “The work and effort that has gone into the submissions is remarkable. The schools that entered have really taken on board all the advice that we gave them and, as a result, 26 new biodiverse and wildlife rich green spaces will be created. Some of the designs submitted will do exactly what we’re hoping for in terms of ticking all the boxes to deliver richer wildlife habitats. Others need a bit more tweaking to maximise these benefits, but all submissions deserve funding to realise the potential of this opportunity.”

I can’t wait to start working with schools to help make these projects a reality and refine some of the proposals to maximise the environmental benefits.”

Following the success of this project, East Midlands Airport will make available further funding for more schools to create eco-gardens. Any school within the airport’s community fund ‘area of benefit’ can submit proposals. Funding will be awarded if the submissions meet the criteria set out in the competition.

Announcing this extra funding. Cllr Sheila Jackson, Chair of the East Midlands Airport Community Fund, said:

“The response to this initiative has succeeded expectations and while there is money in the pot, it’s the right thing to do to spread the benefits. A driver for this is to engage with as many young people as possible and therefore we are delighted to announce an extension of the funding to allow more schools to get involved.”  

Clare James, East Midlands Airport’s Managing Director, said:

“As a mother of two young boys, I know how much the future of the planet means to them and, therefore, as a business of strategic importance to this region, I want to ensure we are doing our bit to engage young people about environmental issues and make a positive difference.

“As the aviation industry races to find solutions to make flying greener and more sustainable, we as an airport and a major local employer can make a difference on the ground by continuing to fund schools to create green spaces that are wildlife rich.”

The money for the competition and the extra funding 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.

Schools wanting to find out more about how they can apply for funding to create eco-gardens should visit www.eastmidlandsairport.com/eco-garden

Schools that entered the competition and will be awarded funding are:

  • Diseworth C of E Primary School
  • Holy Trinity Primary CE School
  • Aston on Trent Primary School
  • Wymeswold C of E Primary School
  • Blessed Robert Sutton Catholic Voluntary Academy
  • Hathern C of E Primary School
  • Castle Donington College
  • Findern Primary School
  • Outwoods Primary School
  • Longdon Park School
  • St Edward's Catholic Academy
  • Humphrey Perkins School
  • Long Whatton Primary School
  • West Bridgford Junior School
  • Burton Fields School
  • The Glapton Academy
  • English Martyrs' Catholic Voluntary Academy
  • St Thomas CVA
  • Ashby Willesley Primary School
  • Dovecote Primary and Nursery
  • Alderman Pounder Infant and Nursery School
  • Kegworth Primary School
  • St John Fisher CVA
  • St Josephs Catholic Primary School Derby DE23 6SB
  • St George's Catholic Voluntary Academy
  • Holy Rosary CVA