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Environmental sustainability guidance

Environmental sustainability guidance

This guidance provides advice and ideas on ensuring the environmental sustainability of National Lottery projects.


Our world is changing at an increasingly rapid pace. As a global society we are using up our finite resources and causing serious and lasting damage to our planet.

Our natural world has never been under such intense pressure, species are declining at an alarming rate and habitats are degrading. There is also strong scientific evidence that our climate is changing because of emissions of greenhouse gases as a result of human activity.

Scientific models and evidence show a warming trend over the last century. Recent decades have shown a clear pattern of change in weather patterns, which can be generalised as wetter winters, drier summers and an increased frequency of extreme and unpredictable weather, including heavy rain and storm events. These changes are projected to continue and intensify through the present century creating challenges for built environment and causing the failure of natural systems that help support human activity.

If we want future generations to be able to enjoy and benefit from our existing natural and cultural heritage, then we must make responsible environmental choices about how we live, work and care for it.

We need applicants help to urgently reduce all the potentially negative impacts of the projects we support and we ask that all projects do their upmost to enhance environmental benefits.

That might be by:

  • reducing hard-surfacing
  • recycling materials
  • reducing construction waste
  • reducing energy use
  • not using peat
  • creating sustainable drainage
  • providing new habitats for wildlife

We have been told by National Lottery Players that they feel strongly that landscapes and nature are a good use of our funding. As one of the two key priorities for our new strategic funding framework we especially wish to see projects that reduce or eliminate damage to nature and landscapes, and that wherever possible there are obvious gains and benefits from our investment for nature.

Your Project

As a responsible funder, we expect all applicants to consider how they can make their projects more sustainable by increasing positive environmental impacts and reducing negative environmental impacts.

You therefore need to think about environmental sustainability and how you can embed this into your project from the beginning.

We will offer guidance and advice to help you do this. You can access further advice as well as practical support from Fit for the Future , an environmental sustainability network that we are working with to support people to make good decisions about integrating environmental measures into their projects.

Our expectations

While we expect all projects to include measures to reduce their environmental impact, we recognise that the opportunities will vary from one project to the next, and so we will take a proportionate and pragmatic approach.

For example, applicants applying for £3-10,000 should think about simple steps such as making a commitment to minimising waste and using recycled or biodegradable materials. There might also be opportunities to encourage more visitors to make sustainable transport choices or to reduce their energy use.

On the other hand, applicants developing large capital projects will be expected to demonstrate a focussed approach aimed at considering environmental impacts and sustainablity across their entire project.

Monitoring your impact

As you start to think about how you will reduce the negative environmental impacts of your project you should also think about how you will monitor the measures that you have chosen to implement.

We will ask you to identify and explain the steps that you are taking to increase positive environmental impacts and reduce negative impacts in your application.

We will use this information in our assessment and decision-making. We will also expect you to identify appropriate baselines or benchmarks and then set yourself targets so that you can assess how well you have achieved your environmental aims when you reach the end of your project.

We recommend that you include information about your environmental aims and how you will measure them in your project plan, conservation management plan or management plan.

Setting targets

There are a number of tools that can help organisations to measure and monitor their environmental impact.

Members of the Fit for the Future network are asked to submit an annual report that looks at a range of measures including energy use and travel.

National Portfolio Organisations funded by Arts Council England are required to submit similar reports using the tools developed by Julie’s Bicycle.

These freely available Creative IG Tools are a set of carbon calculators designed specifically for the creative industries, though they are available for anyone to use.

Other carbon footprinting tools are available, for example:

You could also think about setting yourself the goal of achieving an award or other type of recognition as part of your project. There are a range of environmental award schemes that you might consider, for example:

Whatever you chose to do it is important that you make sure that you can measure – and then celebrate – your achievements. 

More information

Evidence and analysis of the challenges presented by climate change are summarised in the 2017 UK Climate Change Risk Assessment Report.

This can be accessed via the Committee on Climate Change website.

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