A final call is being made for applications to Essex & Suffolk Water′s Branch Out scheme, which offers grants of between £1 and £25,000 for projects that benefit wildlife, environment and local communities.

Local organisations, community groups and individuals from the public, private, voluntary and education sectors have until 28 February 2019 to get their applications in for the current funding round.


Since launching in 2013, Branch Out has awarded grants worth over £370,000 across over 87 different projects, and in 2017 was a finalist in the prestigious Edie Sustainability Leaders Awards, which recognises excellence and innovation in sustainability.


Judging for the previous round of Branch Out funding took place in September 2018, with nearly £40,000 in funding allocated across 11 projects, including schemes run by Suffolk Wildlife Trust, Suffolk Owl Sanctuary, Essex Waterways and the Chelmer Canal Trust.


Projects which receive Branch Out funding can also be supported by ‘Just an Hour′, Essex & Suffolk Water Water′s employee volunteering programme.


Miranda Cooper, Conservation and Land Manager for Essex & Suffolk Water, said: "A healthy natural environment is essential for us to supply top quality drinking water. Since launching in 2013 Branch Out has made a really significant contribution to helping this region build resilience and adapt to the changing climate, whilst benefiting water, wildlife and local communities.


"Branch Out is open to small and large schemes, so we encourage local organisations, groups and individuals to get their bids into us 28 February."


Last year the RSPB made a successful application for Branch Out funding, receiving a grant of £10,700 for the Flatford Wildlife Garden, in East Bergholt, Essex. The Garden was officially opened to the public in September 2018.


RSPB Warden Shirley Sampson said: "The grant from Essex & Suffolk Water′s Branch Out scheme will help us to truly realise the potential of Flatford Wildlife Garden and provide a wonderful experience for everyone who comes to visit it. Key to this is our new 7,500 litre underground water tank which will be used to store rainwater that is harvested from the roof of the barn. This will help us to improve water consumption as the water collected can be used to feed the pond and water the garden.


"The grant we secured from Branch Out has been extremely valuable to us, and I would recommend the scheme to other local organisations who have environmental projects which require additional funding."


Full details on how to apply are available at www.branchout-esw.co.uk. All applications will be carefully considered and judged against set criteria. Decisions for applications received by 28 February 2019 will be provided by 31 March 2019.