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Communities can apply to £5m fund for active and sustainable travel projects


By John Davidson

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The Smarter Choices, Smarter Places fund has £5 million on offer over this year.
The Smarter Choices, Smarter Places fund has £5 million on offer over this year.

A multimillion-pound fund aimed at increasing opportunities to walk, wheel and cycle for short journeys across Scotland has opened.

Community, public and third sector organisations can now apply to the Smarter Choices, Smarter Places Open Fund which has £5 million worth of grants available this year alone – double the amount available previously.

Now in its fifth year, the fund has already awarded over £9.3 million to hundreds of projects across Scotland that aim to get people out of their cars and walk, wheel or cycle for short journeys or use public or sustainable travel for longer trips.

The launch of this year’s grant fund has been welcomed by Scotland’s Active Travel Minister Patrick Harvie MSP.

He said: “I’m delighted we have been able to double this year’s Open Fund to £5 million – reflecting both the popularity of the fund and the effectiveness of giving community groups the flexibility to draw down funding and spend as they see fit to deliver initiatives that provide the best value for money in the communities they serve.

“This increase is part of our record funding for active travel this year and another step in our commitment to make walking, wheeling and cycling the natural choice for our daily short journeys in Scotland, and I commend Paths for All for their excellent stewardship of the Open Fund.”

Managed by national walking charity Paths for All and supported by Transport Scotland, the Smarter Choices, Smarter Places (SCSP) Open Fund aims to encourage people to change their behaviour and to walk, wheel or cycle for short, everyday journeys.

It also encourages people to use sustainable travel choices, including buses, trams or trains for longer journeys to help cut Scotland's carbon emissions and improve air quality.

Since 2018, the SCSP Open Fund has supported charities, colleges and universities, social enterprises, third sector organisations, community groups and health and social care partnerships to realise their active travel ambitions.

It has funded dozens of new active travel jobs and has boosted hundreds of initiatives to get people moving as part of their daily journeys, funding everything from information apps to active travel hubs.

Kevin Lafferty, chief executive officer at Paths for All, said: “We’re absolutely thrilled to be able to offer £5 million in grants this year to support more people to travel in ways that benefit their health and wellbeing and that helps protect our environment too.

“It’s been incredible to see what has been achieved so far, and we are looking forward to seeing more projects coming forward with new and creative ways to make walking, wheeling, cycling and public transport the natural choice when getting from A to B.

“I’d encourage anyone with an active travel idea to get in touch with us and find out how we can help get projects off the ground. Together we can work towards creating a happier, healthier and greener Scotland.”

For information on how to apply for a Smarter Choices, Smarter Places Open Fund grant of between £5000 and £50,000, visit www.pathsforall.org.uk/open-fund


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