Schemes that threaten the countryside are usually proposed and approved, piecemeal, at a local authority level. Local groups are best placed to oppose plans for airport expansion, road-building, urban sprawl and incineration facilities as and where they occur.
By engaging people from the bottom-up, local campaigns complement the work of national environmental groups that influence Government policy from top-down. Community involvement provides a popular mandate for change. MPs who hear regularly from their constituents may be prepared to explore more sustainable policies for the local area and the nation as a whole.
Research into environmental grant-making reveals that very little money is available to community-level groups. This is not because local campaigning is ineffective, but because funders often find it hard to identify and monitor grantees. Local groups typically require small sums of money, delivered at short notice as campaign opportunities arise. With hundreds of groups in existence, it can be difficult to sort the best from the rest without incurring unacceptable administrative costs.
In short, the style of grant-making required is small, frequent and flexible, with light administration to keep costs down. The Manuka Club has risen to the challenge by sourcing grant proposals through a network of 'gatekeepers' - experienced campaigners who recommend groups for funding.
Community-level environmentalism is a rewarding area in which to fund. A little money goes a long way in supporting local groups, whose greatest assets are the freely-given time, skills and determination of volunteers. A short survey carried out for the Manuka Club suggests that for every £1 local groups receive in income, they carry out at least £10 worth of unpaid work. In this and many other ways, funding local campaigns offers great value for money.
For more information on patterns of environmental grant-making in the UK, please refer to the Environmental Funders Network.