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New fund supports school wildlife project - Yorkshire Dales National Park

Cracoe and Rylstone Primary School in Craven has received the first grant from the new Swinden Quarry Natural Environment Fund.

Pupils received £2,000 to create an allotment and wildlife garden on land next to the school. They are pictured celebrating their success in the days before the school shut in response to the Coronavirus emergency.

A total of £30,000 will be available each year through the fund, for the next twenty years, for projects which conserve and enhance the environment in the 13 parishes around Swinden Quarry. Project ideas are being invited now, with a deadline of 27 April for the first round of applications.

The money is coming from Tarmac, which owns the quarry, while the grants are being administered by the National Park Authority.

Some of the children at Cracoe and Rylstone Primary School in their new garden, part funded by the new Swinden Quarry Natural Environment Fund
Some of the children at Cracoe and Rylstone Primary School in their new garden, part funded by the new Swinden Quarry Natural Environment Fund

The Executive Co-Headteacher of the Upper Wharfedale Primary Federation, Ella Besharati, said: “We have been overwhelmed by the generosity of Tarmac, our local ward councillor David Pighills, the Cracoe Village Hall Committee and so many members of the local community in bringing this project to fruition. We are absolutely delighted to have this additional space, as we are seeing more and more the educational benefits of nature-based and outdoor learning. The children had recently started weekly cookery lessons, which they loved, and they were particularly excited about the prospect of cooking with what they had grown themselves.”

The Swinden Quarry Natural Environment Fund is underpinned by a ‘Section 106’ legal agreement between Tarmac and the National Park Authority, which was drawn up following a decision to grant planning permission to extend the life of the quarry. Tarmac applied in 2017 to deepen the quarry and extend the approved period for winning limestone from it by nine years to 2039.

The National Park Authority’s Member Champion for Development Management, Jim Munday, said: “The Swinden Quarry Natural Environment Fund is an example of the way that careful planning can result in environmental gains. The fund is open to applicants now, and I am looking forward to seeing many exciting and worthwhile projects being supported over the coming years.

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