A COMMUNITY grant given to help build a new education hub has proved to be a sore subject.

Calor Gas announced it would allocate £5,000 of its Rural Community Fund to the League Against Cruel Sports to help fund the creation of a new education centre at the Baronsdown Wildlife Sanctuary near Dulverton.

The funding has already been received by the group - but Calor has now admitted issuing the grant was a 'mistake', as the application went against its rules.

While the LACS submitted the application in 'good faith', the gas company claims the fund has always been 'non-political' and it regrets any offence caused by the decision to grant the money.

The fund is an annual scheme which has seen £145,000 donated to more than 50 projects in three years.

This year more than 300 entries were received and then voted on by the public. Those with the most votes, including the LACS application, then went before a panel to be discussed.

Seemingly no issue was found by the panel for the League funding, but now the gas company is back-tracking on its decision.

A Calor spokesman said: "One of the projects that received funding was for the redevelopment of a wildlife sanctuary to act as an educational hub for the area, which is operated by the League Against Cruel Sports (the League), an animal welfare charity.

"The application was submitted in good faith by the League, but on further review by Calor it has become evident that it was non-compliant with the Calor Rural Community Fund scheme rules.

"As such, Calor has inadvertently committed an oversight by incorrectly applying the scheme rules on this occasion."

The money has already been received by the group, and Calor refused to comment on whether or not it would be requesting to have the money back.

The spokesman added: "We have realised our mistake that the application was not compliant with the scheme rules and the award should not have been made, therefore we are in discussion with the League regarding the award funds.

"In the meantime, we will be awarding funding to another applicant to the Rural Community Fund that is compliant with the scheme.

"We would like to emphasise that the Calor Rural Community Fund has always been non-political in its nature and Calor regrets any offence that this oversight has caused.

"The rural communities that we serve are at the heart of our business and we would not intentionally act in a manner that would jeopardise these relationships.

"Our intent is to safely provide the energy needs for the homes and businesses in rural communities and not take a position on any of the complex issues affecting these areas.

"We will continue to develop the Calor Rural Community Fund and a thorough review of the due diligence process will be completed ahead of any further activity."

The League still plans to build its new education hub.

Chris Luffingham, deputy CEO of the League Against Cruel Sports, said: “We submitted our application in good faith, and we are dismayed to see the level of vitriol levelled at Calor by a small section of the rural community that see the League as a threat and which can only recycle old, turgid and untrue accusations at our charity as a way to try and undermine the campaigning work we do to promote animal welfare.

“Our education hub, set in the heart of Exmoor, will be used to inspire local communities to come together through volunteering, to offer educational workshops, help them learn new skills and to increase their knowledge about the local wildlife, flora and fauna.”