Is Bristol the green capital of Europe?
Bristol will today find out whether it has been named the European Green Capital of 2014.
The city went up against 18 others, and was one of only three to make it through to the shortlist. Bristol will have to fight off two tough competitors, Frankfurt and Copenhagen, to make it to the top spot.
The 2014 European Green Capital Award recognises cities which achieve high environmental standards and are committed to sustainable development.
The award will be given to the city which has a consistent record of achieving high environmental standards, is committed to on-going and ambitious goals for further environmental improvement and sustainable development, and can act as a role model to inspire other cities and promote best practices to all other European cities.
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There are two stages to the competition: firstly, Bristol sent a technical submission of twelve sections covering issues like the city’s contribution to climate change and its air quality, which were considered by technical experts.
Their scores were then used to shortlist three or four which are invited to present to a jury, who then choose the winner.
In April it emerged that in a technical evaluation of the city, Bristol had been ranked second and winner in three key areas – climate, air quality and noise pollution.
But what exactly are Bristol’s green credentials?
1) High carbon targets
Bristol has set higher carbon targets than the EU or UK: 40% by 2020 (2005 baseline) and 60% by 2050 (from 1990 baseline). It is the only UK city to set a target to reduce total energy use in its city: 30-% by 2020.
2) Lowering emissions
So far a 15% overall reduction in carbon emission has been achieved between 2005-09, exceeding the targets, with 18% from organisations and businesses, 15% from domestic use and 8% from transport.
Bristol City Council (BCC) has reduced its carbon emissions by 9% between 2004 and 2009, by:
- improving the energy efficiency of 121 buildings through a £1m revolving fund, resulting in annual savings over £430,000 and 3,000 tonnes of CO2
- developing biomass heating at 14 public buildings using wood from BCC parks
- reducing council travel by 15% through improved awareness and travel planning
- developing 6MW of council owned wind energy generation.
BCC’s target of achieving a 28.6% improvement in energy efficiency from a baseline of 1996 was achieved by 2009, two years ahead of target.
3) Changing transport
The council's transport plan reduced the per-person carbon emissions from local road transport by 14% between 2005 and 2009, and Bristol has successfully reduced per person carbon emissions from homes by 20%.
Cycling trips are up 63%, and the number of children driven to school is down by a fifth.
Traffic growth has been restricted to about 0% despite a 9% population increase.
In 2008 the government appointed Bristol as the UK's first official Cycling City, with £22m invested over 18 months. Infrastructure developed included a 200km network of signed routes including 61km new segregated routes, and 20mph pilot areas covering one sixth of households in the city.
But the council acknowledges that while congestion is reducing, it is still higher than similar cites in the UK.
4) Low wastage
Bristol's residents produce the least amount of waste per person of any major English city and recycle a higher percentage of their waste than most cities. Bristol was one of the first UK major cities to introduce doorstep waste recycling over a decade ago.
In 2003 Bristol Council modernised household waste recycling centres to double the waste recovery rates, now over 75%, and last year introduced kerbside collections of mixed plastics.
The proportion of total waste sent to a landfill is 62%, and biodegradable waste 50%.
5) Air quality and noise pollution
Bristol has not exceeded the EU limit values for ozone in recent years, and the council has invested in a comprehensive monitoring network for key pollutants.
BCC has invested in a comprehensive monitoring network for key pollutants. Monitoring sites are located in worst–case locations where there is residential exposure, in line with national guidance.
BCC is one of only two local authorities in the UK to have mapped transport noise. The city has a dissemination and engagement programme, is investing in new advanced measuring and recording equipment and is piloting Quiet Zones and 20mph zones across the city.
There has been a reduction in Noise Complaints, but the percentage of the population concerned about noise is not reducing significantly.
6) Protecting nature, biodiversity and greenfield sites
The 1997 Local Plan has successfully directed development away from green space and the green belt. Since 2001, 98% of business development and over 95% of new homes were on brownfield land. Only 2.8% of open space has been built on, and 87% of people live within 300m of a green space.
Bristol is at the forefront of UK councils in terms of action in defining its Wildlife Network. It has developed an ‘Urban Wildlife Corridor Assessment Methodology’ to provide a scientific basis on which to designate and protect a network of sites and corridors that are important for wildlife.
This includes both Sites of Nature Conservation Interest (SNCI) and Wildlife Corridors – these prevent harm to SNCIs and provide an essential physical link between sites and the wider countryside. They also help with flood storage, carbon absorption and reducing the urban heat island effect.
The city’s designated Wildlife Network accounts for just over 3,000 ha of land (27%) 1,542 ha of 90 Sites of Nature Conservation Interest (SNCIs) and 1,494 ha of Wildlife Corridor (338 sites). Some 923 ha (131 sites) of the 3,000 is publicly accessible, which works out as 38 m² per person.
7) Water consumption
Water meters cannot be fitted against the wishes of the householder, but Bristol Water, working in partnership with the Local Authority, has increased the levels of water metering to 35% in 2010 from 26% in 2008.
The proportion of households with a metered supply within the Bristol Water area has increased by 8% in the past three years, with a target of 100% by 2035.
Water consumption has reduced by 1-2% over the past five years.
8) The Community Challenge Fund and helping businesses become more sustainable
The Community Challenge Fund hands out small awards to innovative projects which seek to increase the quality of life in their neighbourhood and cut their carbon emissions.
The fund, which helps them get going, has financed a whole host of projects, from Zero Carbon Bristol, which explores the possibility of Bristol as a leading Green Capital becoming a Zero Carbon City, to Street Cycle, which encourages Bristolians to get on their bikes.
The Bristol Green Capital Partnership supports 140 businesses and organisations to take action, while the West of England Carbon Challenge gives free advice and support to businesses signing up to reducing their carbon footprint by 10%.
9) Leading the way with a strategy
Back in 2000 Bristol City Council was pilot of the ICLEI Cities for Climate Protection programme, created an emissions inventory and became one of the first councils to develop a Climate Protection and Sustainable Energy Strategy.
10) Plans for the future
Bristol Council has created an action plan and is aiming to invest more than £56m to save 21,450 tonnes/yr of CO2. Delivery has begun, and actions include a solar PV programme (£29m) and wind energy plan (£9m).
The council also intends to implement a £262m local road transport action plan, including a rapid transit network, a £50m integrated package to promote walking and cycling, and electric car charging points.
The result will be announced at approximately 8.30pm GMT.
For more information, visit Bristol Green Capital