The Falkirk Greenspace Initiative (FGI) scooped the top award at this year's planning ‘Oscars’.

The Scottish Awards for Quality in Planning 2012 recognised the innovative and visionary project which went on to be the overall winner taking the evening’s top award for outstanding achievement.

More than 1.3 million trees have been planted and over 260km of paths created or upgraded since the FGI was formed by Falkirk Council and Central Scotland Forest Trust (CSFT) twenty years ago. A mosaic of community woodlands connected by local access networks has provided a major recreational resource for local people and visitors as well as an attractive framework for new developments of all kinds.

Councillor Adrian Mahoney, Convener of Leisure, Tourism and Community said: “The FGI has been a flagship project in the Council’s Development Plan for many years and it is very heartening to see it recognised by these awards. The planning service has worked closely with CSFT to deliver the project and the people of Falkirk Council area have benefited greatly from the sustained improvements to their environment. Tourism and business attraction have also benefitted from the remarkable transformation in the area’s image”

The FGI was created in 1993 to transform the environment, improve the local quality of life and attract inward investment.

The Council and CSFT have worked on a number of key projects including:

  • Falkirk Helix (£41m) – strategic greenbelt enhancements, parkland, events space and canal related infrastructure
  • Falkirk Urban Woodland Initiative (£800k) – community woodland management and creation
  • South Falkirk Environmental Justice Project (£500k) – landscape restoration and access networks to serve a growing community
  • Bespoke Project (£1m) – commercial venture for off-road trail biking
  • Roughcastle Landscape Restoration, improved setting and access between the Falkirk Wheel and Antonine Wall World Heritage Site
  • The development of Local Nature Reserves at Bonnybridge and Bo’ness.

Simon Rennie, Chief Executive at CSFT, said: “The Falkirk Greenspace Initiative is a fantastic project which has transformed the local environment and dramatically improved perceptions of the area.

“It has added significant value to the local economy through attracting inward investment and tourism, and has facilitated an enhanced environment and improved quality of life for the local community.

“It is fantastic that this has received the recognition it deserves from the prestigious Scottish Awards for Quality in Planning, and along with our partners, the CSFT team is thrilled with the accolade.”

In 2012 Falkirk Council will produce a new successor – Falkirk Green Network Strategy – to promote and further develop the work of the groundbreaking Falkirk Greenspace Initiative.

The Scottish Awards for Quality in Planning is one of the Scottish Government’s most prestigious events celebrating achievements in planning, ranging from strategic vision to development on the ground.

A video about the project and further information is available on the Scottish Government website.

Copy from Falkirk Council.