Climate action taken to protect the Ouse Valley area

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Ouse Valley Climate Action (OVCA) is a Sussex Community Development Association (SCDA) project which aims to inspire positive action to mitigate the effects of climate change in the lower Ouse Valley and Havens.

In October 2022 Ouse Valley Climate Action was awarded £2 million from the National Lottery Community Fund, aiming to make the region a national pioneer in tackling the climate change emergency.

The project area follows the River Ouse downstream from Barcombe through to Lewes, and further south to Seaford, Peacehaven, and Newhaven.

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The 18 month development phase of the project explored the communities of the Ouse Valley and the successes, challenges and opportunities for the area to become more resilient to the effects of climate change.

Ouse Valley Climate Action on a tour of the streams and drainage channels of Newhaven. These streams are known in East Sussex as ‘sewers’.Ouse Valley Climate Action on a tour of the streams and drainage channels of Newhaven. These streams are known in East Sussex as ‘sewers’.
Ouse Valley Climate Action on a tour of the streams and drainage channels of Newhaven. These streams are known in East Sussex as ‘sewers’.

Jamie Lloyd, engagement officer for the Sussex Community Development Association (SCDA), said: “The Ouse Valley is a wonderful place to live but also has areas of regular flooding and increased impact of coastal storms and erosion together with pockets of significant entrenched deprivation and fuel poverty in a relatively affluent area. The river itself is also in poor ecological health and this along with the health and wellbeing of the residents are a priority for the local authorities/charities and the South Downs National Park."

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The OVCA project focuses on three key areas: nature recovery and climate resilience; people’s knowledge and skills and greener energy and travel.

Some of the mains aims of the project include: To capture more carbon with natural solutions, such as tree planting and creating new wildlife habitats, to make space for water in the Ouse catchment to reduce flood risk and increase resilience to drought, to support more community green spaces and food-growing areas, to deliver events and engagement around improving household energy efficiency, and to support new greener travel initiatives around walking, cycling and e-bikes.

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Projects that the OVCA are delivering include the active Travel Hub at The Sidings in Newhaven, which includes ‘learn to fix your bike’ sessions and Learn to Ride sessions on most Wednesday afternoons for younger children.

Jamie said: "Future projects will focus on the rest of the river valley and will involve working with community groups to deliver their aims from planting community orchards to organising clean ups and removing plastic and other debris from local streams and the River Ouse. River health will be a major focus of future projects and we will be working with groups like Love our Ouse to promote a cleaner river environment.”

He added: “The partnership has a wealth of expertise and we have harnessed this to look at the streams and waterways running from the Downs down to the wetlands in and around Newhaven to identify the threats and opportunities to get better quality and better flowing waterways.

The OVCA received Climate Action Lottery funding, delivered to the already active groups, such as climate hubs, community gardens and community groups enhancing protected areas.

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The National Lottery OVCA funding has enabled Ouse Valley Energy Services Companies (OVESCO) to set up a dedicated team to deliver these services over the next three years.

Follow Ouse Valley Climate Action on Facebook, email [email protected], or visit for more information.