Spotlight on Levenmouth as Climate Beacon for COP26

  04 June 2021
A Fife regeneration initiative aiming to improve the local environment and encourage social and economic opportunities along the River Leven catchment has been awarded ‘Climate Beacon’ status by Creative Carbon Scotland to mark the year of COP26.

The Climate Beacon award will provide funding for The Leven Programme to deliver a year-long series of environment-focussed creative and educational activities within the local community, in partnership with OnFife and Levenmouth Academy.

These will include interactive community art projects, song writing sessions with local songwriters, storytelling walks along the River Leven and citizen science activities, all with a focus on the local environment, local history and climate change mitigation and adaptation.

Climate Beacons are collaborative projects between climate change and environmental organisations, along with arts, heritage and cultural bodies, with the aim of stimulating long-term public engagement about climate change and the environment in the lead-up to and following COP26.

The Leven Programme involves many key government agencies, non-government organisations, private sector and local communities working closely together to help deliver environmental improvements in and around the River Leven in Fife, while maximising the social and economic opportunities that these improvements can bring.

In July 2019, the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) - a partner in the Leven Programme - signed a landmark Sustainable Growth Agreement with Fife Council, Sustrans, NatureScot, Scottish Water, Scottish Enterprise, Fife College, Forth Rivers Trust, Diageo, Green Action Trust and Keep Scotland Beautiful focused on six strategic outcomes for a “living, breathing example of inclusive growth”. This was followed by further partner agreements in June 2020 with NHS Fife, The Coal Authority, Zero Waste Scotland, Fife Coast and Countryside Trust, Network Rail and Historic Environment Scotland.

The Climate Beacons accolade will plug the project into a nationwide network or organisations looking to boost public engagement with COP26 – the United Nations climate change conference being held in Scotland in November.

Pauline Silverman, Programme Manager for The Leven Programme and SEPA’s Senior Manager for Partnerships and Places, said: “We are excited that The Leven Programme has been selected as a Climate Beacon given the tough competition from across the county.

“Mid-Fife faces challenges with the emerging impacts of climate change, such as coastal erosion, drought, coastal and fluvial flooding, and biodiversity loss. 

“Our aim as a Climate Beacon is to bring together local voices in a just transition and ensure those in the community who may be hardest hit by climate change, co-design the change needed and have the support, resilience and tools to adapt. 

“The Beacon status will help us to turn the narrative of the area around – from a carbon intensive area to a low carbon community of the future.”

Councillor Ken Caldwell, Convener of Levenmouth Area committee, said: "This is a really exciting time for Levenmouth, with several major projects coming to fruition in the next few years. These are all focusing on the improvements that we can make to our environment and to tackle the climate emergency.

 “This Climate Beacon status will further help to put Levenmouth on the world stage and promote our area as a go to destination, as well as helping our communities see that it’s an exciting place in which to live and work."

The Leven Programme has carried out a public consultation on design concepts for segregated cycling, walking and wheeling key routes within Levenmouth and produced a Behaviour Change Community Action Plan with input from the local community, co-ordinated by Sustrans Communities – a charity which helps communities more accessible for walking and cycling.

The Leven Programme is also working closely with Network Rail and the Levenmouth Reconnected Programme to ensure a joined-up approach with other major programmes of work being undertaken in the area.

The Levenmouth catchment area was historically the engine of mid-Fife, sustaining several hundred mills and factories, and was home to miners and workers in the manufacturing industries. Recent serious environmental challenges have created multiple pressures and environmental impacts including barriers to fish migration, water quality issues and physical modifications to the rivers.

The Leven Programme launched in 2018 with the environment and people at its core, aiming to breathe life back into the river and improve the areas surrounding it, making them great places to live, work and visit. Reconnecting people and place is a key focus of the Programme.

The first phase of The Leven Programme - The Connectivity Project – will see the creation of a network of paths and cycle ways along a 5km stretch of the river from Levenmouth to Cameron Bridge connecting local communities.

Work will be carried out on environmental river improvements, as well as unlocking opportunities to bring some areas of vacant and derelict land along the river back in to productive use.

As part of the wider Leven Programme, pupils from Levenmouth Academy have been developing rural skills and carry out work towards their John Muir Awards portfolio by taking part in local charity The Bats Wood Project – one of the many examples of collaborative working across the community.

Dan Brown, Creative Development Manager at OnFife: "We're excited to be working with The Leven Programme and Levenmouth Academy to deliver one of Scotland's seven CIimate Beacons. Community and culture will at the heart of the collaboration as we plan a creative and engaging programme for Fife."

Duncan Zuill, Teacher & EIS Representative, Levenmouth Academy said: “We hope to use our Beacon status to encourage other schools to make their campuses greener and promote rewilding!”

The Leven Programme is one of only seven in Scotland awarded the Climate Beacon status.

Notes for editors:

For further information contact:

The Leven Programme

In June 2020, the programme was announced as the first living case study in Volans’ ‘Green Swan Observatory’ initiative, propelling the project to the global ‘one to watch’ list for innovative approaches.

Climate Beacon

The Climate Beacon project is being co-ordinated by Creative Carbon Scotland, along with a steering group of co-ordinating partners from Architecture and Design Scotland, Creative Scotland, the Edinburgh Climate Change Institute, Museums Galleries Scotland, the Scottish Library and Information Council, and the Sustainable Scotland Network.