What is OVCA?
In October 2022, Ouse Valley Climate Action was awarded £2m Climate Action Funding from the National Lottery Community Fund – the largest funder of community activity in the UK – to make the area a national pioneer in tackling the climate change emergency.
The East Sussex partnership comprises 10 organisations, including the South Downs National Park Authority, South Downs National Park Trust, Lewes District Council, community energy businesses, voluntary and charitable organisations, working with dozens of local community groups, and has an ambitious goal of empowering local people to help create one of the first communities in England to fully embrace climate action.
The project area follows the River Ouse downstream from the village of Barcombe – which is aiming to be the UK’s first net-zero village – through to Lewes, the National Park’s largest town, and down to the coastal towns of Seaford, Peacehaven, and Newhaven.
The river valley is a fragile landscape that has already felt the effects of climate change this millennium, including flooding, storm damage, coastal erosion and biodiversity loss.
The Ouse Valley Climate Action Project, which has been developed in close collaboration with local people, focuses on three key areas:
- Nature Recovery and Climate Resilience
- People’s Knowledge and Skills
- Greener Energy and Travel
Among the aims of the project are to:
- Capture more carbon with natural solutions, such as tree planting and creating new wildlife habitats.
- Make space for water in the Ouse catchment, such as creating water habitats, to reduce flood risk and increase resilience to drought.
- Support more community green spaces and food-growing areas.
- Empower and educate residents about climate action and sustainable living through inspiring events, engagement and training sessions including Carbon Literacy.
- Encourage behaviour change to help the environment.
- Develop new local Community Energy Groups and community-owned renewable energy projects.
- Events and engagement around improving household energy efficiency.
- Support new greener travel initiatives including walking, cycling and e-bikes.