A bid to make Stirling the UK's first carbon-neutral city was hailed the "start of an exciting new era" by a government minister yesterday.

Campaigners were handed £1.25 million in funding as the community-led project, Going Carbon Neutral Stirling (GCNS), was launched.

They want to bring down average annual carbon dioxide levels from the current level of 12 tonnes, the average in Scotland, to one tonne per person per year.

The funding comes from the Big Lottery Fund and the Scottish Government.

GCNS aims to work at a community level, encouraging people to change their behaviour to lower carbon dioxide emissions.

Changes could include turning washing machines down, switching off lights and changing their shopping habits to buy local and seasonal produce.

They will also work with businesses, encouraging them to make a difference through measures such as recycling and using energy saving light bulbs. The Scottish Government has provided £750,000 of the funds handed over yesterday.

The money comes from the £18.8m Climate Challenge Fund, launched by the government and the Scottish Greens, aimed at helping achieve an 80% reduction in emissions by 2050.

Announcing the funding, Environment Secretary Richard Lochhead said: "We want Scotland to be part of the global solution to tackling the threat of climate change.

"This is the start of an exciting new era for community empowerment and I'd encourage all those who want to make a difference locally and globally to come forward with their ideas."

Dharmendra Kanani, director of Big Lottery Fund Scotland, said: "We believe our funding will not only enable the people of Stirling to live a more sustainable lifestyle, but also bring communities together."