SCHOOLS and community groups could see their green projects being given the red carpet treatment with the launch of Oxfordshire’s very own 2010 Osca’s.

The Oxfordshire Sustainability and Conservation Awards (Osca) are again being jointly organised by the Oxford Mail’s sister paper The Oxford Times and Oxfordshire County Council.

The awards recognise schemes that have helped improve the local environment, and a £5,000 prize pot, donated by RWE nPower, is up for grabs.

Prizes of £1,500 will go to the winner of each of the competition’s three categories.

They are: waste minimisation and recycling, energy efficiency and renewables, and enhancing/preserving biodiversity.

The remaining £500 will be shared out among runners-up.

The competition is open to any local group, school or community. Entries must be in by Friday, June 25.

The county council’s head of sustainable development, Chris Cousins, said: “This is a great opportunity for local communities to come forward and gain the credit they deserve for their environmental efforts.

“Osca 2010 will reward the best green projects – from recycling waste and saving energy, to enhancing biodiversity.

“We know there are many successful projects out there, and the Osca’s are the ideal way to raise the profile of this work and encourage others to get involved.”

Entries will be judged on their originality, effectiveness, sustainability and public involvement. Photographs should be provided as part of the application to give a general overview of the project.

Rebecca Harwood, of the council’s waste management team said: “The Osca’s are all about promoting and rewarding the valuable environmental efforts of community groups across Oxfordshire.

“It is also about inspiring others to take up the challenge, however big or small the contribution.There is still time to enter and we are looking forward to hearing about what Oxfordshire residents have been doing to help tackle the big issues surrounding energy, waste and biodiversity.”

Previous winners include the Canalside Environmental Group, which won the recycling category in 2006, the last time the competition was held.

The project aimed to encourage recycling through organising a variety of interactive waste reduction events.

Blewbury village residents also lifted an Osca that year for handing out energy-saving light bulbs at their village open day and offering advice on conserving energy.

The third category was won by children from Dorchester Primary School who planted 400 wild flowers as part of a water meadow project.

To enter, go to the website For more details, call 01865 815861 or visit futurefirst