Groups in South Pickenham and Thetford have shared in £1,000 Breckland Council grant funding to support them in delivering green initiatives.

South Pickenham Parish Council and Thetford Railway Station received £500 each to purchase a number of new bird boxes which will support the conservation of local wildlife and raise awareness among of the public.

The parish council has purchased 21 bird boxes so far including those designed for robins, swifts, and owls. One of the Owl boxes is pictured below. In another step to give back to the community, rather than purchasing the boxes through wholesale, the group commissioned Swaffham’s Men’s Shed charity group to carry out the work. These boxes were then given to residents to place in their gardens and encourage new nesting sites for the birds.

Cllr Fabian Eagle, Breckland Council ward member for Ashill, commented: “It is fantastic to see the community effort that has gone into this green grant. From outsourcing the creation of the bird boxes to a local men’s charity to giving the boxes to local residents. Bird boxes act as a brilliant tool to educate all generations on the importance of conserving wildlife as well as benefiting the environment around them. Many bird species have adapted to live around our homes, but sadly many such as Swifts and Sparrows are in serious decline, hopefully schemes such as this will help halt their decline.”

Meanwhile, the Friends of Thetford Station group has purchased six habi-sabi day and night boxes (pictured above). The boxes are made from recycled materials and are designed and made in the UK, housing swifts during the summer months and bats all year round.

Alongside the boxes, the group has installed a solar powered swift call emitting device to improve the chances of the boxes being found and used. This will result in enhanced biodiversity by supporting vulnerable species. The move aims to protect the swifts, whose population has halved in the last 25 years. It is hoped this action will attract more people to travel by train and encourage more local eco-tourism and wildlife encounters.

Cllr Susan Dowling and Cllr Mike Brindle, Breckland Council ward members for Thetford Priory, said: “It is great to see parts of town being celebrated for promoting biodiversity and conservation. The railway station is a major part of Thetford’s transport infrastructure, and it is impressive to see it being used to benefit the natural environment.”

Cllr Ian Sherwood, Breckland Council’s Sustainability Strategy lead, added: “Bird boxes and the conservation of our wildlife is such an important part of creating a more sustainable future. The Community Green Grants have enabled communities to come together and have an amazing impact on creating a more environmentally conscious environment.”

Funding for these schemes comes from Breckland Council’s Green Community Grants scheme which awarded a total of £98,226 worth of grants, shared between 30 projects across Breckland towards the end of 2021

This fund forms part of the council’s broader commitment to the environment and becoming NetZero as an organisation by 2035. Commitments it has made as part of its Breckland 2035 Sustainability Strategy include increasing the number of electric vehicles charging points across the district, protecting, and increasing tree canopy, reducing the impact of the council’s buildings and employees on emissions levels and empowering our communities to take action for themselves.