Copenhagen pips Bristol to European Green Capital prize
BRISTOL has lost out in its bid to be declared European Green Capital.
The city reached the final three in an EU-wide competition to find the place doing the most to make urban living environmentally-friendly.
But it was beaten into second place by Danish capital Copenhagen in the race to be the 2014 holder of the title.
Although green capital status would not have brought the city a cash prize, previous winners have credited the title with bringing up to 1,000 new jobs and tourist visits worth about £800,000 to the local economy, along with extra clout in attracting hundreds of thousands of pounds in sponsorship and grants.
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Bristol - also a finalist in the 2010 competition - was praised by judges for its work on climate change, air quality and noise pollution, and was also said to have been the best at bringing the council, businesses, community groups and universities together.
The city council spent just under £10,000 on preparing the bid and sending a group, including council leader Simon Cook, to current green capital Vitoria-Gasteiz in Spain for Friday night’s award announcement.
Mr Cook said: “To get so far in this competition has been a remarkable achievement for Bristol, particularly when we were up against such strong competitors. It is testament to the huge amount of progress made on the green agenda, the vision we have for the city in years to come and the great working relationship in Bristol between the public and private sector, community groups and academia.”
Cabinet councillor for neighbourhoods Guy Poultney insisted that most of the projects highlighted in the bid - including moves to increase solar power generation, promote cycling, improve public transport, cut landfill waste to zero and insulate up to 7,000 homes - would go ahead in any case, which meant the Bristol’s efforts had not been in vain.
He said: “This was always going to be a political decision.
“At the end of the day, what we are delivering stays the same. We have packaged a lot of things as being in the bid that will still happen.”
Judges said Copenhagen won because of its strengths in urban planning and design, transport, engagement of residents in green campaigns and plans to make the city “carbon neutral” by 2025.
Savita Custead of the Bristol Natural History Consortium brought organisations including Bristol Zoo and the city’s universities together to work on schemes to involve the public in improving the environment, including Bristol’s Big Green Week and Festival of Nature, and the Green Volunteers scheme. She said about 20 people had worked on schemes related to the bid over six months, devoting about £100,000 of staffing time.
Ms Custead said: “We created a plan and there’s a really interesting conversation to have about what in that plan we want to find funds for and do anyway.”
Businesses involved in the bid included Bristol Water, which worked with council waste contractor May Gurney and charity The Conservation Volunteers to transform 1,000 old wheelie bins into water butts which are being offered free to households.
Bristol Green Capital Partnership chairman Professor Martin Bigg, of the University of the West of England, said: “We have amazing green creativity, culture and ethos in Bristol, and it is thanks to all this that the city is being recognised at an international level.”
The city will not enter the competition for the 2015 award.