IN 1996 the Government created the Landfill Tax Regulations.

The idea was simple: companies which run landfill sites could get money back on their tax bill and give it to local environmental projects.

Given there was no financial benefit to the firms, the scheme might have been buried like so many other green dreams under a mountain of rubbish.

Instead, last year, growing groups across Oxfordshire netted some £80,000 from bin company Grundon alone.

Projects ranged from putting up footpath signs at Adderbury Lakes near Bicester to helping buy 113 acres of farmland for Chimney Meadows nature reserve near Witney.

Every single penny was acquired from Grundon and redistributed by two members of staff and nine volunteers at the tiny Trust for Oxfordshire’s Environment (TOE2).

Since 2011, TOE2 has provided more than £1.25m to more than 250 projects, supporting better wildlife habitats, better access to green spaces and reducing carbon footprints.

Almost all of that has been from Grundon, but as of this financial year, the tables are starting to turn.

Firstly, in a bitter-sweet victory for the environmental trust, the scheme has been a victim of its own success: the landfill tax was designed to discourage landfill and encourage recycling and re-use such as waste incinerator plants, and that is the way the industry is going.

Secondly, TOE2 is widening its net to get grant cash from a much wider variety of sources, including Network Rail, Whittard of Chelsea and Brakspear.

In 2017 the trust actually awarded about £20,000 from those new sources.

But director Fiona Danks says the 2017/18 financial year will be the last where landfill tax makes up the majority of its awards.

Network Rail alone is now offering grants up to a staggering £100,000 through TOE2 for woodland planting projects to mitigate the wildlife impact of its electrification of the Great Western Mainline from London to Cardiff.

Oxfordshire County Council and the Thames Valley Environmental Records Centre are also now giving money to the trust.

With so much cash set to be floating about, Ms Danks has put out a fresh appeal for groups to come forward and claim a prize.

She said: “TOE2 is seeking creative, ambitious and visionary projects that will deliver real, strategic and lasting benefits to Oxfordshire’s environment.

“If you have a partly-developed project or even a good idea for a project, we would love to hear from you.

“We may be able to put you in touch with individuals or organisations to help you take your project forward.”

To find out more, call the trust on 01865 407003 or go to