Bo’ness: Funding for 20-minute town project prioritising people rather than vehicles

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?

Wednesday, 26th January 2022, 7:00 am

Locals in Bo’ness are about to find out after Forth Valley based charity Forth Environment Link received funding from the Scottish Government’s Investing in Communities fund to run a project in the town aimed at developing a community climate action plan for the town.

Working with community groups, Falkirk Council and residents, it is looking to better understand how living locally can enhance people’s lives and enable communities to thrive.

The concept of 20-minute neighbourhoods has been steadily gaining traction over recent years within cities such as Barcelona, Melbourne and London, but little research has been done in smaller, semi-rural locations.

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Stuart Guzinski and Jules Ryan from Forth Environment Link, who are leading the charity’s 20-minute neighbourhood project (Pic: Paul Saunders)

Bo’ness already has many of the features associated with 20-minute towns - and this pilot could help shape communities as they adjust to life after lockdown.

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Jules Ryan, project co-ordinator said: “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”

She highlighted more time spent at home and in the community, re-discovering our parks and landscapes, and shopping locally as among the silver linings of the past two years.

Bo'ness mining memorial

Added Jules: “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.

“Bo’ness already boasts many of the features of a 20-minute neighbourhood and has bags of community spirit.

Sunset over Kinneil Woods, Bo'ness

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 town’s community council, Falkirk Council and local organisations, to help inform future planning and developments.

Ettie Shattock, senior project officer at The Conservation Volunteers (TCV), which has been delivering youth engagement in the town, said: “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.”

Residents have also been urged to get involved in the project.

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.

“The 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."

To get started please fill out the community survey

You can also get a hard copy at Bo’ness library.

All participants who fill it out before it closes on February 28 will be entered into a prize draw.

Digital copies of the survey can also be requested by emailing [email protected]

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