The Council has been awarded £500,000 from the Scottish Vacant and Derelict Land Fund to develop an ambitious community-led food growing project using renewable energy.
Clackmannanshire Living Lab will transform derelict land next to Alloa’s Forthbank Recycling Centre, with work scheduled to begin in the spring.
Initially, the project will see the installation of a modular building for mixed methods in growing produce, along with solar panels to help grow the food and a rainwater capture system.
The Council’s Spokesperson for Environment and Net Zero, Councillor Fiona Law welcomed the successful bid, saying it was a ‘fantastic opportunity for those living in Clackmannanshire’.
Councillor Law added: “This project will be a stepping stone towards the creation of local community investment in renewable energy and food growing and could in the future create new jobs and skills development.
“The Council is keen to develop community wealth building initiatives which create a new people-centred approach to local economic development, redirecting wealth back into the local economy, and placing control and benefits into the hands of local people.”
The Living Lab will provide learning opportunities, food growing, food education, food innovation, green energy and sustainable living to people in the community as well as starting to produce food.
It is hoped that the project, which is being supported by key partner, the University of Stirling, can then be scaled up to include a total of 95 hectares at Forthbank, on land all owned by the Council.
This would then see the community learning, growing and energy production facility delivering a wide range of green jobs, skills, inward investment and high quality careers.
Long-term the project would also be the focus for skills development and training as well as a local resource and a potential tourist attraction.
Professor Rachel Norman, Chair in Food Security & Sustainability at the University of Stirling, said: “We are really thrilled that this funding bid has been successful, it will allow us to take the first step toward building facilities that will benefit the local community and will strengthen further the connections with the research community here at the University of Stirling.
“Looking at the wide ranging benefits of innovative community food growing and local renewable energy use will allow us to understand how this type of system can be best used for Clackmannanshire and how it could be adapted to meet the needs of other communities.”
Already the Council services involved in delivering the project have forged partnerships with local community groups and the Clackmannanshire Third Sector Interface.
Other partners include Forth Valley College, Keep Scotland Beautiful, Scottish Water, Forth Environment Link and NHS Forth Valley’s Public Health and Nutrition Team.
The project will also link in with the work of the Scottish International Environment Centre.
The first phase of works at the site is expected to last a year, with a completion date of spring 2024.
The Living Lab is one of 15 projects across Scotland to receive a share of £10million from Stage 2 of the Scottish Government’s Vacant and Derelict Land Investment Programme for 2023-24.