Communities Leading the way on Climate Action

  • 09 Sep 2021
  • General

Ahead of Climate Fringe Week we are looking at the leadership role that communities in Scotland are playing in driving Climate Action.

In this Blog Lucy Espeland of the Development Trusts Association Scotland highlights 13 projects making a real difference.   

The Langholm Initiative (Dumfries and Galloway)

Langholm Initiative’s historic land buyout was the largest community buyout in the South of Scotland. Over 5,000 acres of land is now in community ownership which has paved the way for one of the most ambitious plans of a generation: the creation of a huge new nature reserve which will help tackle climate change, restore nature and support community regeneration. The land is secured for generations to come and will be an inspiring case study for communities and landowners alike in how to manage land sustainably in a way that benefits the local economy. The Langholm Initiative’s Wild Eskdale Project is also promoting sustainable tourism in the Esk Valley.


Coigach Community Development Company (Highlands)

Coigach Community Development Company runs a community-owned Wind Turbine which generates an income for the local community through its own renewable energy with income used to improve Coigach through key actions and projects. They have used green technology to make their rural economy more sustainable. The funding generated from the renewable energy project has been used to fund more affordable housing, workshop space for new businesses, harbour improvements for our local fishing fleet, cultural heritage projects and personal training.


Tayport Development Trust (Fife)

Since 2011, Tayport Development Trust’s successful PLANT programme has been working on projects bringing people together to grow food and flowers, while reducing carbon emissions and enhancing Tayport’s natural environment. This has included the incredibly popular Tayport Community Garden which has provided a community growing space where organisations, groups, families and individuals of all abilities can work, learn and socialise. They also run workshops and climate evenings, run community orchards and generate an income from their apple juice.


Greener Kirkcaldy (Fife)

Greener Kirkcaldy is a community-led charity and development trust working locally to combat the climate emergency, tackle fuel poverty and food insecurity, and bring people together for a more sustainable and resilient Kirkcaldy. They deliver a range of projects, events and skills training to meet the needs and goals of local people – working towards a future where everyone can live better and tread more lightly on our planet. Their work is extensive from running a Fife-wide energy advice service to growing food, teaching local people how to cook and eat sustainable and much more.


Sustaining Dunbar (East Lothian)

Sustaining Dunbar has been engaging with the community since 2008 to develop locally based responses that meet the needs of the community and address the challenges of reducing carbon footprints and mitigating the impacts of climate change. This has included: Home energy use – audits and help to install energy reduction measures; Feasibility studies for setting up local energy company; Active travel and transport – car club, cycling promotion, safer routes to school and local paths; Waste minimisation – one of Scotland’s first Zero Waste Towns recycling hub, Kitchen Canny food recycling, Worms Work composting; Food campaigns – Nourish Conference and  Declaration of Dunbar,  Belhavaen Community Garden, recently established Local Good Food Allliance; and promoting local economy – initiated Dunbar Community Bakery, Coworking Hub feasibility study, liaison and support to  Dunbar Trades Association.


Dollar Community Trust (Clackmannanshire)

Dollar CT have supported the local community to achieve climate goals. This includes: using nature based solutions such as community tree planting to reduce the impact of increased flooding in the area; construction of a community garden with a planned community wormery for composting, creating a bee friendly environment to support resilience including the planting of wildflower meadows throughout the community, in private and public spaces; and hoping to use the mine water from old coal mines as a source of geothermal heat with a view to developing the first geothermal mine water resource in Scotland.


Strathdearn Community Developments (Highlands)

Strathdearn is at the front line of climate changes so adapting and building resilience against climate change have been core to their activities and community planning. They aim to support land managers in the community to conserve deep peat. They also host 200 MW of onshore wind energy generation in and around the community and plan to grow community and private partnerships to create green jobs and increase wellbeing. They have also community run Electric Vehicle chargers in connection with the Electric A9 Project. Their new Hub will be highly insulated with renewable energy features, digital technology and charging points for electric vehicles and cycles.


Linlithgow Community Development Trust

Linlithgow’s story shows how disparate parts of a community can come together to tackle a common cause and build local resilience. Collaboration has been key for becoming an established community anchor organisation. In addition, Transition Linlithgow, the town’s grassroots environmental action charity, joined to become part of LCDT this year. This has created one organisation committed to sustainable community development, ready for building on their success to create a thriving 20-minute Net Zero Carbon community.

Their story demonstrates the growing ambition and capabilities of communities to play a key role in the Climate Change agenda.

A key focus for their plans is the creation of employment, education and training opportunities for young people. This relates to Green Jobs Revolution and Green Covid Recovery, and the Scottish Government’s Climate Emergency Skills Action Plan.


South Seeds (Glasgow)

South Seeds have a successful community garden known as ‘the Croft’, which is less than 20 minutes’ walk from the COP site. They have a fantastic story behind getting hold of the land to build the Croft, the carbon saved from teaching local people how to grow food and how they run an adopt-a-bed scheme in practice. These stories explain the twists and turns of policy development, community empowerment and local interest in climate change. They also run a tool library, energy advice service, and much more.


North West Mull Community Woodland Company 

NWMCWC on the Isle of Mull was the first  community owned charity to buy land and forest through the National Forest Land Scheme in 2006 and has since endeavored to create opportunities for people to make a life here through the development of crofts, local affordable housing and a hydro-electricity scheme. They have also created an amenity woodland by replacing coniferous plantations to broadleaf woodland in so nurturing a rich and biodiverse ecosystem helping prevent further ecological and climate collapse. 

More recently NWMCWC pounced on the opportunity to purchase the island of Ulva with the vision to  repopulate this once thriving farming community. It is currently upgrading its housing stock and boasts a number of cottages, a café, a hostel and a farm. Fossil fuel based transport and farming equipment is being replaced with electric alternatives. A large part of the project is the maintenance and creation of woodland and to use cattle to manage the moorland and help revive large areas of  land rendered unproductive by thick bracken and so protect and enhance biodiversity. 


Healthy n Happy Community Development Trust

Healthy n Happy’s cycling initiative, Bike Town refurbishes bikes and encouraging reuse. They work with their communities to encourage active travel and reduce the carbon footprint of transport. Greening Camglen is a community initiative that promotes ‘greener living’ and provides education and support on Climate Change. They also provide training sessions at this venue to educate people about Climate Change.



Connect Community Trust (Glasgow)

Based in Glasgow, Connect operates allotments, electric cars, a furniture reuse and recycling operation and is involved in a wide variety of education and learning opportunities in the environment. Their community is creative and innovative with it’s approach to addressing climate change and it is continually evolving with the needs in the community that impact on a national basis also. Through the recycling operation (ReConnect Glasgow) they record CO2 emission savings and weight of items diverted from landfill. 

Their activities are wide and varied and involve all ages, people with disabilities, elderly, young, families and individuals. Their allotments have supported people with mental health issues, reduced isolation, improved education and skills. Electric vehicles support people on low incomes to have access to vehicles alongside reducing the impact their travel needs have within the organisation.  The furniture reuse and recycling operations provide extensive employment and training opportunities alongside diverted bulk household items from landfill and reselling at low and affordable prices for those most in need. Overall, our work is integrated into our youth groups, volunteer and employment programmes and therefore increasing the wider impact and knowledge of climate change in the community.



Lanark Development Trust

Set in the historic town of Lanark, Castlebank Horticultural Centre is a hub for environmental and horticultural education, and nature based community volunteering. Managed by Lanark Community Development Trust,  the centre and Castlebank Park it sits within, are extremely valuable assets open to all residents of Lanark and the surrounding towns and villages. They view their educational activity as a means of empowering people to understand the complexities of the climate emergency, and take informed action. Climate sensitive development of public spaces like Castlebank Park are very underfunded. However, this doesn’t need to be the case! They believe public parks all across the country should be well supported and be seen as public beacons of inspiration in tackling the climate and ecological emergencies.