|Country:||a) Western Europe,||b) United Kingdom|
|Type:||Project, Concept, 1|
|Area:||City/Town, 100,000 - 1 mill.|
|Actors:||Local government, National government, Economic sector, NGO, Publ.-priv. partnership|
|Funding:||Local government, National government, European Union, Economic Sector, NGO, Publ.-priv. partnership|
|Topics:||Business and industry|
|Information and public participation|
|Urban renewal / Urban rehabilitation|
|Objectives:||Improve intersectoral cooperation|
|Improve national / international cooperation|
|Increase green areas|
|Increase public awareness|
|Instruments:||Eco audit / Environm. Impact Assessment|
|Integrated planning approach|
In 1990, Groundwork Blackburn was established as the environmental arm of the Blackburn Partnership (established 1989). It brought together a cross-section of groups - regional and local government, elected representatives, business and community leaders - with the goal of developing interrelated programmes for economic, social, and environmental regeneration. Groundwork Blackburn is a local network of 40 non-profit environmental service organisations which provides practical solutions for environmental problems at the local level, as well as access to a wide array of funding. Confronted with the legacy of environmental degradation, it is seeking to remediate and regenerate the local environment to create favourable conditions for new business and the existing community. The project was chosen as an example of good practice for several reasons:
The idea of the national Groundwork network is to provide broad-based partnerships with non- municipal organisations that offer environmental support services and access to additional funding sources. The concept is aiming to improve the built and natural physical environment in urban areas, and thereby to raise the quality of living for the local communities in terms of improved amenities, employment opportunities, and the chance to share in shaping the management of local activities. Groundwork was the leading environmental partnership organisation in the UK. It serves an area lived in by a third of the British population, covering 120 towns and cities including Belfast, Birmingham, Manchester, Leeds, and seven London Boroughs. Groundwork programs involve over 60,000 adults and 120,000 children in sustainable development projects each year.
Each local Groundwork aims to serve the community in a professional manner and to set high standards. The Groundwork activities have four basic themes:
1. Bringing about environmental improvements:
2. Educating and involving the community:
3. Integrating the economy and the environment, especially at small and medium-sized firms:
4. Conserving natural resources:
Groundwork Blackburn is also trying to encourage private sector involvement in community-based initiatives, traditionally viewed as the sole responsibility of the public sector. Therefore, the support of the local businesses is essential for the wider economic regeneration and the incorporation of environmental issues. The latest national report on the Groundwork programs emphasise that an average of as much as 22% of the income has been contributed by the private sector. The involvement of business leaders, the development and selling of services, and the provision of long-term support are key elements for the achievement of a cycle. Practical regeneration actions to improve the environment lead to improvements in quality of life and a positive image of the area, making it easier for those agencies charged with drawing in investment to do so, and for firms to hold the people they already have. The direct contribution to economic regeneration creates both jobs and wealth that is necessary to invest back into the community. At the same time, a firm beginning to take steps to improve its own environmental performance reduces both the costs and the risks that it faces. It is likely that this policy will increase its sales and enhance its image.
With the agreement of its sponsors, Groundwork Blackburn has focused on three complementary streams of activities:
Each activity involves a mixture of practical projects, consulting, training, and promotional work with a range of partners and funding bodies.
1. Practical Regeneration Action
Practical Action is a programme to develop partnerships that will bring people together to gradually transform target areas within the Borough, in partnership with various local agencies. The regeneration of degraded landscapes is an essential part of a policy aiming to improve the poor physical conditions, to overcome vandalism, and to bring back greenery to city areas. Groundwork Blackburn projects have played a key delivery role in the citys Challenge Environment Programme. Projects focus on road, rail, and canal corridors, on vacant industrial land, and on improving industrial and commercial premises.
So far, the most apparent achievements are that 145,000 trees have been planted and 6,500 metres of footpath improved. Also, 125 hectares of land have been treated and work has taken place at 400 sites. More than 5,500 people have been involved in the projects, and "green gang" training and jobs have been provided.
2. Hearts and Minds
Hearts and Minds is the other community-oriented stream of initiatives to raise the awareness for environmental issues. Campaigns, events, training, and greening projects are designed to bring environmental interest and education to young people and special target groups (e.g. senior citizens or Asian women).
Groundwork Blackburn has aimed to involve communities across the borough in four seasonal campaigns each year, often utilising national initiatives to achieve local objectives. The annual Spring into the Countryside Campaign enables young people to visit farms and the countryside, as well as the Leeds & Liverpool Canal. Tree Weeks are mainly used for the implementation of planting programmes in existing woodlands. At annual events like the Bulb Planting Bonanzas, local people get the opportunity to plant more than 30,000 bulbs each autumn. The other regular occasions of transforming the environment are the dramatic one-day projects which aim to achieve environmental progress and to attract publicity within 24 hours. The measures are new planted seating areas, picnic sites, community gardens, or the improvement of access to local woodlands.
An environmental education programme has been structured by a joint steering group with support from Lancashire County Council and extra funding from the national Urban Programme. It focuses on eight services designed to influence the behaviour and attitudes of the younger generation in an environmentally friendly manner. The areas of activities include:
Between 1990-1995, the Hearts & Minds programme involved 128 schools: 37 school grounds had been upgraded, and 8 community gardens had been created, 18 campaigns had been run, 4 target communities had been supported with over 50 individual projects, and 5 dramatic, one-day projects took place. The activities involved approximately 1,000 people and 20,000 pupils.
3. Business Action
The third major area of activities for Groundwork Blackburn is directed towards economic undertakings. Any local company, regardless of size, sphere of operation or current environmental position is able to benefit from the services offered by Groundwork Blackburn. Five streams of supporting activities should help to improve the condition of the environment:
The Environmental Review Service, pioneered for Groundwork Network in Blackburn, is offering companies in the United Kingdom an invaluable environmental baseline and the establishment of an action plan. The environmental services are giving access to environmental reviews, environmental standards (BS 7750) and the European Eco-Management & Audit Scheme (EMAS). Other services developed deal with Total Quality Management and environmental, as well as heath & safety, training programmes. In short, the services cover all aspects of an economic undertaking: environmental policy, management systems, the environmental impact that businesses have on their environment, and legislative requirements.
On top of that, the concept of the Business Environment Association (BEA) has been established in order to have an institutional base with the credibility to succeed in convincing senior business management that environmental issues are relevant to the bottom line. The pilot initiative has been set up by Groundwork Blackburn with the funding from Shell UK Ltd., the Department of the Environment, the Department of Trade & Industry, and the European Community funds for regional development. With the local support of the Chamber of Commerce and the city authority, as well as regional help from the Conference of British Industry and the North West Business Leadership Team, Groundwork Blackburn was asked to establish one of eleven pilot projects targeting small to medium-sized companies (SMEs).
Whereas large companies are often able to devote time and resources to satisfy legislative pressures and exploit the opportunities for developing money saving programmes for energy or waste minimisation, SMEs first steps in the relatively demanding area of environmental protection can prove daunting. In addition to the Environmental Review Services, the BEA has included on-site consultations, seminars, and newsletters. Hitherto, the growing demand for such environmental information and management training has been lacking in business schools. Further services are provided by the Environmental Resource & Information Centre, which carries out technical support for members of the BEA (e.g. energy and waste surveys, advice on waste minimisation, waste disposal, and discharge consents, etc.). Based on market research from consultations locally and regionally, the package of service available for BEA members consists of:
By 1994/95: 105 businesses had joined BEA, 130 Environmental Reviews had been carried out, 22 seminars had been held, 2,300 managers passed environmental training courses, and 20 companies were working according to BS 7750 / EMAS regulations. More than 4 million Pounds had been spent on environmental works by Groundwork Blackburn clients. A client turnover of 850 million Pounds was influenced.
However, Groundwork Blackburn is not only trying to encourage SMEs to switch to greener policies, it is also promoting and funding partnership concepts with "green" groups outside the firms. These Greening and Sustainable Action Teams carry out environmental projects on the SME site - e.g. new planting or wildlife areas. Another field is Environmental Audits, which are often supported by university students with a particular expertise. The linkage between local green groups, university, and local business has proven beneficial to all parties, and it is an example how environmental projects can bring about a change in attitudes and habits.
Groundwork UK is a partnership between national government, local government, the business sector, and local communities. There are 43 Groundwork Trusts throughout England, Wales, and Northern Ireland. In 1994/95 alone, nine further trusts joined the national network, and in 1995/96, Groundwork Stoke-on-Trent became member no.43. Each of them is a company limited by guarantee, and each has a charitable status under law. The core funding is coming from the UK government, the European Community, local government, and local private sector companies. Each Groundwork has similar funding arrangements which contribute to the basic costs of running the organisation. Each then draws additional funding from a wide variety of sources to cover the balance of their costs and those required for their services and projects. Nation-wide there are 6,000 small and medium-sized firms supporting and working with Groundwork Trusts at the local level.
The Blackburn Partnership had been launched in 1989 as an economic regeneration project. It brought together a cross-section of groups - regional and local government, elected representatives, business and community leaders - with the goal of developing interrelated programmes for economic, social, and environmental regeneration. Training and advice, as well as information and consultancy, are essential parts of the practical work. Nova Scotia Wharf is, therefore, not just the location of the Groundwork Blackburn headquarters, but also a place with an environmental exhibition centre, a presentation theatre, seminar facilities, and an environmental library and database. Previously, the site was a warehouse on the Leeds/Liverpool Canal. The complex has been designated as one of the Lancashire Centres of Excellence under the Lancashire Environmental Action Plan, and has been given a Civic Award for its design.
A future project is the establishment of an Eco-Office at the Groundwork South Tyneside which will have reed-bed filtration system for waste water, composting lavatories, a water-powered lift, photovoltaic cells, solar panels, and recycled construction materials. The European Regional Development Fund has agreed to pay almost half of the 1 million Pounds building costs as a clean technology priority.
Leverage is an important condition of success in finance. The national funds bring in complementary funding locally, and also voluntary support.
The good practice of Groundwork Blackburn and the other Groundworks are mainly directed towards urban regeneration and the integration of environmental issues into daily life, as well as into economic activities. The key point is the establishment of partnerships with central government, local government, and the local community. The holistic approach is used to deliver social, economic and environmental outputs. This philosophy is described by Mr. Wilmers, the Executive Director of Groundwork Blackburn:
What are the benefits to Blackburn from our work? I believe that we are making a significant contribution to both local environmental regeneration and local economic regeneration, but perhaps the most important element is changing attitudes of business leaders and workforce, and then helping them to produce the necessary change in behaviour. And what are the lessons we can share with others? Any initiative of this nature needs very strong business leadership from the locality. In addition, a strong, local, independent identity is vital - we are not part of the regulators, we are not part of the Government, but we are friends with, and supported by, both. A multi-agency partnership at the local level is necessary - nobody can do this work on their own. A lot of our success comes down to the regional support that we have had - larger companies helping out, not just with advice and support, but often actively buying our services as a way of helping us to build up our ability to help firms in our locality. And of course, one needs Government funding to fund that part of the work that is not self- financing. ... We are all aware of "Agenda 21" and the "Global Plan of Action". I would like to advocate to you the role of Groundwork at the very lowest level in delivering action that is necessary, the small steps that cumulatively add up to a significant change in the direction of sustainability, and without which we cannot achieve Agenda 21. Groundwork is thinking globally and is acting locally. (in: Department of the Environment 1994: p. 110)
OECD 1990: Environmental policies for Cities in the 1990s, Paris
ICLEI 1994: Partnerships for Environmental and Economic Regeneration, Blackburn, United Kingdom, Toronto
Department of the Environment 1994: Partnership in Practice. International Conference in Manchester in September 1993, London
Groundwork National Office, (ed.) 1995: A national network for sustained regeneration. Groundwork annual report 1994/95, Birmingham
Groundwork National Office, (ed.) 1995: Small firms and the environment. A Groundwork status report. Research Report by the Imperial College of Science, Technology and Medicine, Birmingham
Groundwork Blackburn 1995: Groundwork Blackburn review 1990/5, Blackburn
|Name||:||Groundwork National Office|
|Telefon||:||++44 / 121 / 236 8565|
|Telefax||:||++44 / 121 / 236 7356|
|Address||:||85-87 Cornwall Street|
|Birmingham B3 3BY|
|Telefon||:||++44 / 1254 / 23 68 565|
|Telefax||:||++44 / 1254 / 69 28 35|
|The Groundwork Environment|
|Bob Watts Building|
|Nova Scotia Wharf|
|GB - Blackburn BB2 3GE|
The Borough of Blackburn is the largest settlement in East Lancashire with a primary catchment population of 272,000 people and a secondary catchment in excess of 700,000. The Borough is located at the geographical centre of the United Kingdom with access by road, rail, and air networks. Blackburn and the surrounding area have suffered from the decline of textile manufacturing and traditional smokestack industries. Industrial dereliction has a multitude of negative impacts on the area and its public image (damaged ecosystem, vandalism, unemployment, fewer industrial settlements, etc.).
Project was added at 21.06.1996
Project was changed at 01.03.2001