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£25,000 funding paves the way for Park Connector Network expansion

A £25,000 grant has paved the way for the latest expansion of Rugby's Park Connector Network.

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(left to right) Alison Kennedy, principal transport planner at Warwickshire County Council, and Cllr Kathryn Lawrence, Rugby Borough Council portfolio holder for operations and traded services, inspect the 'Bat Hat' solar-powered lights used on the Park Connector Network expansion. Published Thursday, 27th October 2022

Rugby Borough Council secured the funding from Warwickshire County Council's Green Shoots Community Climate Change Fund, which supports community projects designed to tackle climate change and reduce carbon emissions.

The Park Connector Network promotes 'active travel' in the borough through a network of 'green travel' corridors to encourage walking and cycling.

The Green Shoots grant has helped the borough council expand the network in New Bilton, creating new pathways through the Cornwallis Road open space and Freemantle Road play area, connecting to the existing network paths which run through Freemantle Road open space.

New paths also link the network to Madden Place, Dreyer Close and Henry Hinde Junior School.

Since 2020, the council has laid more than 5,000 metres of new or improved pathways for the Park Connector Network.

Hundreds of eco-friendly, solar-powered lights have been installed on the network to encourage active travel throughout the year.

The Solareye 'Bat Hat' lights reduce upward light pollution, which disturbs the movement and feeding patterns of bats and other nocturnal species, impacting biodiversity and the wider ecosystem.

Each light has no cables or sockets, with the battery charging automatically during daylight hours and switching on at dusk. The battery has a lifespan of at least eight years, while each LED light has a lifespan of more than 100,000 hours.

Cllr Kathryn Lawrence, Rugby Borough Council portfolio holder for operations and traded services, said tackling climate change was a corporate priority for the council, having set targets of 2030 for the council to become 'net zero' for greenhouse gas emissions and 2050 for the whole borough to reach the 'net zero' benchmark.

"We all have a part to play in tackling the global climate emergency and the borough council wants to take a lead in harnessing our residents' ambitions to work towards a cleaner, greener future for the borough," Cllr Lawrence added.

"Innovative projects such as the Park Connector Network and the shift towards greater use of active travel have a vital role in reaching our net zero targets while supporting biodiversity and protecting our natural environment."

Residents can find out more information about Rugby's road to reaching net zero at the dedicated website: www.rugbynetzero.co.uk

Cllr Heather Timms, Warwickshire County Council portfolio holder for environment, climate and culture, said: "We were delighted to be able to support this project through our Green Shoots Community Climate Change Fund.

"Our goal with the £1 million fund was to reduce the impact we have on the environment through supporting local community projects that are accessible to all, and the expansion of the Park Connector Network does exactly that.

"We hope that residents will now choose to walk or cycle more often and leave the car behind, even if just occasionally.

"Not only does this reduce carbon emissions, but active travel is also great for physical and mental health and wellbeing, and it can save money that might otherwise be spent on fuel and parking."

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