Shoppers to vote on two projects at Knettishall Heath and the Sandlings

Thursday 20th October 2016

Suffolk Wildlife Trust is asking shoppers to vote for projects at two of its reserves after making it through to the final of a community initiative launched by Tesco.

The supermarket has teamed up with Groundwork on its Bags of Help scheme, which see grants of £12,000, £10,000 and £8,000 – all raised from the 5p bag levy – being awarded to environmental and greenspace projects. 

Three groups in each of Tesco’s 416 regions have been shortlisted to receive the cash award.

And this month shoppers are being invited to head along to Tesco stores to vote for who they think should take away the top grant.

In Suffolk, projects at Knettishall Heath and on the Sandlings have been selected to go forward to the public vote that runs from 31 October to 13 November.

Samantha Gay, the Trust’s Knettishall Ranger said the Bags of Help initiative would see the building of a shelter to allow visitors and school groups to get out of the sun or rain.

In addition, if Tesco shoppers vote for Knettishall Heath to receive £10,000 or £12,000 the Trust would be able to install new motorcycle gates to prevent paths and tracks being damaged by illegal access.

Sam said: “Knettishall Heath is an amazing wildlife reserve, with a tapestry of ancient furzy heath, woodland, meadows and beautiful meandering river. As a result it is a really popular site for schools and groups who want to learn more about these habitats and the rare Breckland species they support. 

“A new shelter would mean visitors can stay that much longer, whether they are studying or just coming for a walk in one of Suffolk’s wildest spots.”

Ben Calvesbert, the Trust’s Sandlings Warden, said a vote for their project in the Tesco-backed scheme would help support a vital programme of conservation grazing at Sutton & Hollesley Commons – allowing the Trust to purchase sheep and a livestock trailer.

Ben said: “The heaths at Sutton & Hollesley represent one of the largest areas of remaining Sandling heathland and using rare breed sheep to remove bracken and scrub are vital for its protection. With the public’s support we will be able to increase the size of our flock and purchase a trailer to transport them in.

“Hopefully people will think of the churring of the nightjar that depends on this habitat when they are next at the Tesco checkout!”

This is the second round of the initiative: the first round saw approximately eight million shoppers vote in stores up and down the country earlier this year.

Lindsey Crompton, Head of Community at Tesco, said: “The first round of the Bags of Help initiative was a fantastic success.

“In total 1,170 community groups were awarded £8,000, £10,000 or £12,000 - that’s a massive £11.7 million being invested into local projects.

“We are already seeing some great results from groups transforming their own environmental and greenspace areas.

“We are absolutely delighted to open the voting for round two. There are some fantastic projects on the shortlists and we can’t wait to see them come to life in hundreds of communities.”

Groundwork’s national Chief Executive, Graham Duxbury, said: “Bags of Help is giving our communities both the funding and the support to create better, healthier and greener places for everyone to enjoy.

“We’ve been thrilled to see the diversity of projects that have applied for funding, ranging from outdoor classrooms, sports facilities, community gardens, play areas and everything in between.

“They’re all fantastic projects that make a real difference in our neighbourhoods.

“We’re looking forward to learning the results of the customer vote and then supporting each group to bring their project to life.”

Voting is open in stores from 31 October to 13 November.. Customers will cast their vote using a token given to them at the check-out in store each time they shop.