There are a number of well-publicised schemes to which rugby clubs can apply for grant-aid towards the cost of improvement projects. One that is not well known, and is open to all clubs located on or within a few miles of a landfill site, is the Landfill Tax Credit Scheme.
Under the scheme, landfill operators can redirect up to 20% of their tax liability to fund environmental projects. The scheme is regulated by a private sector, not-for-profit company, ENTRUST, whose prime responsibility is to enrol qualifying organisations as Environmental Bodies (EBs). The EBs, in turn, are set up by the landfill companies who set criteria for the projects they are prepared to support. Many include in their criteria the reclamation or restoration of land, or the improvement of a public amenity.
One successful example of how the scheme can work for rugby clubs is Peterborough Rugby Club, located on a council-owned former landfill site. The club applied to EB Cambridgeshire for a grant to reclaim and restore a derelict part of its site to form a training area and junior pitch with associated landscaping, and to improve its car park.
The club had already negotiated with the Council, amendments to its lease which gave it more land that could be used to extend its playing and training surfaces. More significantly, the club agreed that it would take over from the Council, full responsibility for the maintenance of its grounds and buildings after the Council had carried out a programme of restoration of areas of subsidence. The Council now gives an index-linked maintenance grant to the club each year, which is less than the Council formerly spent, but which enables the club to commission work that is more flexibly and directly related to the needs of the club. It is a ‘win-win’ situation. The Council is saving money, and the club is achieving a much higher standard of maintenance.
One of the first things the club did was to arrange for the import of appropriate fill to raise and level an area of derelict land within the extended lease boundary. This cost the club nothing, and indeed, the contractors became new sponsors.
Detailed specifications for the work required to create the new training area on the raised area were prepared by the Sports Turf Research Institute and local engineering and landscape consultants. These were submitted with the grant application to EB Cambridgeshire, and the landscape consultants were appointed as project managers. Other supporting information included the Club’s Strategic Plan, Club Rules and accounts, plans, photographs, and letters of support from schools, the City Council and East Midlands Rugby Union.
The application was submitted in August 1999, approved in April 2000, and the work was completed in time for the 2001/2002 season. The total cost (excluding VAT) was £86,000, of which 90% was met by the grant and 10% by a local benefactor.