Can 20-minute neighbourhoods, places that prioritise people rather than vehicles, help reduce our impact on the environment and get Scotland closer to net zero? Locals in Bo’ness are about to find out!
Forth Valley based charity Forth Environment Link has received funding from the Scottish Government’s Investing in Communities fund to run a project in Bo’ness aimed at developing a community climate action plan for the town.
Through working with community groups, Falkirk Council and residents, Forth Environment Link is looking to better understand how living locally can enhance people’s lives and enable communities to thrive.
Project Coordinator Jules Ryan said: “Lockdown was tough on us all, but there are silver linings and learnings we can take from it. Spending more time at home, meant spending more quality time in our communities. Many of us shopped more locally, reconnected with our local landscape and grew closer to our neighbours.
“For those who commuted to work pre-pandemic, valuable time was gained back to spend time with loved ones, become more active or pick up a new hobby.
“As awful as the pandemic has been, it has also been a catalyst to reflect on and re-imagine the spaces and places we live, work and play in. We want to discover whether the 20-minute neighbourhood model can help make communities like Bo’ness happier and healthier for people and planet.”
Whilst the concept of 20-minute neighbourhoods has been steadily gaining traction over recent years with cities such as Barcelona, Melbourne and London, little research has been done in smaller, semi-rural and rural locations.
Forth Environment Link is keen to make sure that smaller communities are not left behind as Jules explained: “The project will give locals in Bo’ness the opportunity to shape the future of their town, so that they can meet more of their daily needs locally and live more sustainably. The potential benefits for the local economy, health and wellbeing and climate are boundless.”
She added: “Bo’ness already boasts many of the features of a 20-minute neighbourhood and has bags of community spirit. With continued input from the community, we believe we can help people meet more of their daily needs within a short walk from their doorstep.”
Once completed the results of the pilot will be shared with the Community Council, Falkirk Council and local stakeholders, to help inform future community planning and developments.
Ettie Shattock, Senior Project Officer at The Conservation Volunteers (TCV), who have been delivering youth engagement in Bo’ness, said: “The concept of 20-minute neighbourhoods puts an emphasis on connecting people to the green spaces that form a vital part of any healthy, happy community.
“Creating well connected neighbourhoods which promote active travel and optimise people’s engagement with nature is hugely valuable in the context of a green recovery and in mitigating climate change.”
Steve McQueen, Director of Sustainable Thinking Scotland, a local social enterprise designed to address food poverty, climate change and a reduction in landfill use, added: “We would encourage anyone with any ideas on what they would like to see happening in Bo’ness to come forward and engage with Jules.
“Forth Environment Link’s recent consultation work in the food sector has recently led to large funding opportunities for groups across the Falkirk District. The My Bo’ness pilot is an opportunity to get your thoughts on improving the town taken seriously and potentially funded. Conversations around the benefits of a 20-minute neighbourhood and what this may look like in Bo’ness certainly seem like a good starting point, so don’t miss your chance to have your voice heard.”
To get started please fill out the community survey here or pick up a hard copy at Bo’ness library. All participants who fill out the survey before it closes on 28th February will be entered into a prize draw. Digital copies of the survey can also be requested by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org For further information, follow FEL on Facebook.