Small-scale projects to improve nature and landscape in the Cotswold Water Park still have the chance to grab cash grants of up to £500.

The grants, on offer until early 2008, are aimed at community projects which will enhance the already-thriving wildlife and landscape within the Water Park

The funding, administered by Cotswold District Council, comes from a £100,000 pot contributed by Cotswold Four Pillars Ltd as part of a planning agreement, after they were given the green light to build a hotel at Lake 6.

And several projects have already had a share of council cash, including Somerford Keynes Parish Council’s £500 project to build new nesting rafts at Coke’s Pit Local Nature Reserve.

The project will see two new rafts replace existing, run-down ones in early 2008. The rafts – located in the middle of the Coke’s Pit lake – will encourage common terns and black headed gulls, returning from a winter in Africa, to breed.

The two by one metre wooden rafts, coated with a layer of gravel, also have a small fence around them to prevent nosy swans and geese getting on board.

Other projects in line for a grant include a brand new wildlife and sensory garden at South Cerney Playgroup so that the children can enjoy wildlife on their doorstep, improving ponds for newts and dragonflies and helping to support a major project to make Lake 12 (Lakeside) better for both wildlife and people.

To be eligible, projects must help conserve and enhance the wildlife of the Water Park and/or contribute towards the park’s overall management. The deadline for groups to get their bids in is January 21st.

Cotswold District Council’s Portfolio holder for Development Service Cllr John Birch said: “This is a great opportunity for local organisations to get involved in improving and enhancing the special environment of the Water Park. Projects may range from planting a hedgerow around your school field, surveying for water voles in your parish or putting up a bat box on the village hall.”

Further information and application forms are available on the Cotswold District Council website at or from Sophia Price, Heritage and Design Manager, Cotswold District Council, Trinity Road, Cirencester GL7 1PX, telephone 01285 623000 or email [email protected]