Business

"Biodiversity conservation gives companies an excellent opportunity to make a contribution to sustainability, often in partnership with conservation organisations who have the expertise to help companies deliver their vision"

(Rt. Hon. Michael Meacher MP – Minister of State for the Environment)

OTTER HOLT INSTALLATION
Jo Luckhurst (Senior Environmental Scientist, North West Water) and Gail Butterill (North West Otters and Rivers Project Officer) placing an artificial otter holt on North West Water-owned land.

Copyright: John Ellis

Target Audience

Farm businesses are covered in another plan. With this exception, the target audience is, in the first instance, the management layer of Large, Medium and Small Enterprises within Lancashire. Given active company support for the BAP it is anticipated that participation can be spread to other staff, suppliers and customers.

 

Facts and Figures

  • Protecting the environment generates nearly £3 billion per year in turnover in the region.
  • 100,000 jobs in the North West are sustained by industries that protect, manage or promote enjoyment of a high quality environment.

 

Links with Species and Habitat Action Plans

Business activity has the potential to affect biodiversity adversely (e.g. through pollution or inappropriate development). However, companies can help achieve BAP targets through active sponsorship of projects connected to HAPs or SAPs. Certain companies possess substantial landholdings in the county and may be responsible for sites of considerable conservation significance. Even small companies can make a positive contribution to their local environment that will benefit their staff, enhance their standing in the local community and conserve wildlife.

 

Current Initiatives in Lancashire

  • Green Business Network: This project is promoted by the Central and West Lancashire Chamber of Commerce. It aims to create a single umbrella organisation to which companies within the Chamber’s area can turn for practical help to improve their environmental performance. An environmental best practice manual is being produced for participating firms. This will include a checklist of steps that they could take to improve their environmental performance as well as a directory of local advisers and specialists in various aspects of the environment.

  • Corporate Biodiversity Action

North West Water is producing biodiversity action plans focusing on its own landholdings (a total of 56,500 ha in north west England). The company funds the Otters and Rivers Project that focuses on several river-related HAPs and SAPs. The

British Aerospace Systems has been actively promoting environmental best practice on its sites at Warton and Samlesbury. The company has produced a guide to achieving ISO 14001 which it has circulated to all its local suplliers.

Castle Cement has collaborated with Lancashire Wildlife Trust to develop a wildlife area located at a former quarry site at Chatburn. Materials have been developed to facilitate use of the site by local schools for environmental education. These materials include a schools pack and website.

The Co-operative Bank is working with the RSPB as 'Species Champion' for the bittern. The Bank has committed £10,000 per year for three years to help restore reedbed habitat for the bittern in the north west and is planning to encourage active participation of staff and customers in active reedbed conservation works.

 

  • NW Regional Development Agency (RDA): The link between a good quality environment and regional economic prosperity has been investigated in a project backed by the RDA and others.
  • Central and West Lancashire Chamber of Commerce: The Chamber has developed an interim environmental standard called Environmental Guild that aims to get SMEs part of the way towards full ISO 14001 accreditation. The standard has been specifically designed for SMEs and will introduce many of them to the importance of environmental management.

 

Possible Methods of Communication with Target Group

  • Via existing business advice networks –This will require good links and flow of information to advisers. Contacts with businesses can be made via Green Business Network and Chamber of Commerce newsletters.
  • Training events and short courses – Need to be of high quality and run by bodies recognised by business.
  • Publications – Businesses receive much unsolicited mail. For this reason publications are probably not going to be an effective communication method unless the information is contained in material that the company has requested (e.g. the Green Business Network folder)
  • Media – General media coverage can gain a profile across the whole community but, if the message is aimed very specifically at companies, it would be better to deliver it via business newsletters and trade journals.
  • Trade shows – General promotion of the Project could be achieved through stalls at shows. However, the display material would have to make a very great impact to stand out from the 'competition'.

 

Issues

According to a local survey conducted in 1997 by the Central & West Lancashire Chamber of Commerce ‘the environment’ still ranks low among the concerns of businesses. Reasons for this include the perception by business that there are few commercial benefits to be gained by an interest in environmental issues. Legislation has caused some companies to re-assess this attitude. It is intended that the survey be followed up in 2001 to assess whether any changes in perception have occurred.

Business interest in environmental best practice is largely confined at present to those areas in which companies can make substantial savings (e.g. energy efficiency). Since the benefits of best practice with regard to biodiversity are not easy to cost these tend to be overlooked.

Strong arguments based upon sound economics are needed to convince the business sector of the importance to them of biodiversity. For example, a link is believed to exist between good environmental quality and good staff motivation and health. However, data does not exist that conclusively proves such a link in Lancashire. This is a field where more research is needed.

Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs) do not have the same capacity (in terms of staff resources, especially) as larger companies to become involved with non-core activities. Several networks and projects exist in Lancashire, which promote sustainability issues to SMEs, yet these tend to lack expertise in biodiversity-related fields.

There is a reluctance on behalf of some SMEs to become involved with organisations such as the Environment Agency because such bodies are seen as enforcers of legislation rather than providers of advice and best practice. The Green Business Network and Business Environment Networks can provide a bridge between SMEs and agencies.

Funding remains a key issue. There are a number of ERDF/SRB/Landfill tax projects providing support for businesses.

Actions Proposed

Broad Objective:

A. Increase awareness within the business community of biodiversity as a commercial factor

Operational Objective

Action Required (Priority)

Partners

Time-scale

Type

1. Publicise results of RDA Environment and Economy study to companies in Lancashire.

1. Organise presentations and publicity aimed at key companies, chambers of commerce, etc, to take place during 2001.

NWB Forum

S

PR

2. Support companies wishing to incorporate biodiversity best practice into their operations

1. Organise biodiversity training for business advisers working for the various business / environment networks operating in Lancashire. (High)

GWk, BENs

 

S

 

 

A

2. Produce and disseminate guidelines for biodiversity best practice for companies in the Green Business Network Manual by end of 2001.

GBN, BENs

M

A

 

 

Broad Objective:

B. Strengthen business sector involvement in BAP-related conservation projects

Operational Objective

Action Required (Priority)

Partners

Time-scale

Type

1. Increase representation of business interests on BAP Steering Group and on all working groups.

1. Seek business representation on BAP Working Groups (one rep per Group by end of 2001). (Medium)

GBN, BENs

S

PR

2. Provide opportunities for businesses to become involved in flagship conservation projects.

1. Identify all statutory and non-statutory wildlife sites in Lancashire owned/managed by industry/commerce and ensure that managers are aware of conservation requirements and sources of ecological advice. (Medium)

EN, BHS P/ship

M

RM, A

2. Initiate one new corporate-sponsored conservation project per year related to BAP species/habitats (total of five by 2005) (High)

Cons NGOs, Lancs firms

L

LM

Date: April 2001.

 

 

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