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County on engagement

Notes from watching a county make change - Herfordshire's business, government and public sector Directors and senior staff working on commitment to change - Hereford, 16 March 2010

First up, Chris Bull, CX of the council and Local Health Board.

"we need to show people what the possibilities are and start to act those out" - acknowledging the scale of change "the council spends £3.5m a year on fuel and utilities - there are some real win wins that we can work ourselves through"

"We must do something about buildings - many of our them are not desparately great, and some are not fit for service. Doing something means looking at individual places, and see how we can use the value of assets in say market towns, to create greater benefit.

Doing something on behaviours is very important - modelling behaviours that are simple - switching off appliances, planning our meetings are things that we can do but don't. We need to think how we individually get to drive this agenda forwards.

We've been describing a strong local commitment to reducing carbon but not doing anything about it. Let's spend today looking at what we can practically do that will show this commitment, model it, demonstrate leadership, and agreeing small practical things that we can do now.

This is part of the future growth agenda - working out how to run an economy with less carbon in a more sustainable way.

Next, Rob Garner, Chair, Herefordshire Environment Partnership

I want to get to the brass tacks of who will do what by when to reduce the 80,000 tonnes of CO2 that's our target for the end of 2011. The current data suggests that of the 10 counties in the West Midlands who are reporting on NI 186, we are at the bottom.

From my background in HR, I believe in distributed leadership, and that's what I want to come out of the day. For those of you interested in statistics, 350ppm of CO2 in the atmosphere is the safe limit; we're currently nudging 390ppm. There are two broad steps in this journey - mitigation - reducing CO2 emissions, and adptation - responding to what is already happening and locked into the system.

The county's actions since 2006 have not matched the commitment and we have a long way to go to catch up. When I said yes to my job, I didn't know how far back we were, but now I feel optimistic. The HEP is the lead policy and delivery group, with responsibility lying with organisations across the county; as with healthy and safety, it's not the H&S Manager's job to make a workplace safe, but to nudge others to work in a safe way - and it's the same in my role.

New Leaf is our new project to connect organisations across the county. We're working with three communities across the county and Communities First - and the early signs are that the communities are responding really positively. We now need to map the best practice in the county and elsewhere - and find out the 80-20 of where our biggest carbon emissions are coming from. We're not going to be reinventing wheels but looking worldwide for ideas to see what we can bring back into the county.

Our work is supported by a communications programme on behalf of the partnership to bring public awareness to this agenda. We now want to connect to all organisations in the partnership, with businesses and others and really grow it.

If we don't work together to achieve this, we will fail. Let's connect together to achieve this - NI186 and other targets will come and go, and our work supercedes this. We will strengthen our relationships with local communities and opens an artery of communication, which is key in an area fundamental to well-being, with huge win-wins.

Melody Stokes, EST

Our vision is to bring 60 million people to a low carbon agenda. Our five step process is:

Assess your current situation - know where you start from, knowing where your carbon is coming from and getting underneath the figures.

Goal - knowing where you're going to - an 80% reduction by 2050 - do we know how each project contributes to the target. Align vision and targets across organisations

Define the monitoring process- agree how to measure progress - frequency, data

Develop action plans and - starting to put the actions into place / 07964 186 634

Health commitments

The Health & Wellbeing Partnership is looking at the footprint of services and looking at the footprint of health. We're reviewing the performance of buildings against industry benchmarks - energy data, procurement from waste to landfill, an business travel. Sustainable performance review - looking at the way we use our buildings. Organisational Effectiveness - looking at how the way we work and our procedures encourage our staff and resident population to leave the car at home and use active travel instead. There's a huge connection between carbon reduction and wellbeing- active travel is a great example.

Stronger communities - Geoff Hughes

Brand new group - working on the prevent (security, terrorism etc) agenda, volunteering, affordable housing and some of the cultural areas - libraries etc.  we have submitted a plan including 6% target for public transport use - we can see from council staff that it's starting to have an effect. All libraries are involved in reycling activities, and the new library in Ledbury will be super-green. On Friday this week, we're discussing ways of encouraging staff to give on payroll to environmental projects - and use two days of volunteering as part of their work to support this fund. On housing, there's an affordable energy scheme and a vilage hall energy efficiency challenge - 29 parish councils are signed up already.

Education & young people

We have over 100 schools; working with colleagues in asset management, we're giving them £1.5m pa to improve stock and reduce emissions. Also doing something radical with our primary capital programme - £8m to take buildings in worst condition and replace two schools in Leominster, for instance with a single school to highest standards. Education choice can mean that more parents drive children to school, and we're moving towards embedding this in everything that our pupils do.

Economic Development

We've been looking at Passiv Haus standards, transport schemes and industrial buildings on council lands. Heredorshire Business & Environment Association has been working to share ideas on waste, energy and legislation, and have been looking at energy networks to save money on supply chain and procurement. The economic group is looking at indicators - around half - that focus on carbon.

We've been failing so far to make it easy for businesses to do something about it - too much doom and gloom that leaves messages that are clear cut - they want messages about what to do. Many are aware, but not enough act - we need to educate more about direct benefits. Maybe have champion managers in business to sell to other businesses - sell themselves, lend out energy meters, identify savings etc, and make it easy for businesses to adopt this new technology.

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