It is not sufficient for the council alone to try and implement sustainable development. Everybody needs to get involved and raising awareness is an important part of the sustainable development process. Angus Council has done a fair amount of work in this regard and has held seminars and conferences locally on environmental issues and produced various documents and leaflets for the public - visit the Publications page to see a copy of the Local Agenda 21 booklet.
In addition, the council has carried out a number of community based projects to help to raise awareness locally - "Think Global, Act Local" as the saying goes.
Angus Eco Teams
Angus Council along with four other local authorities was invited by Global Action Plan (GAP) to take part in a pilot project to test the use of GAP's educational materials. The Eco Team programme is a practical community-based activity that helps households to reduce their impact on the environment and to save money. The Council was keen to involve local communities in this type of work and accepted the invitation. In addition, the main aims of the project included improving peoples' quality of life, helping to build stronger community relations whilst saving people money and helping the environment.
Whilst GAP provided the materials: Eco Team workbooks and videos for the teams to watch, as well as analysing the results, it was left to the local authorities to set about recruiting volunteers. This was done in various ways by the different councils involved in the pilot. Angus Council recruited their participants through leaflets which were put out in all libraries, housing offices and museums, community councils and village hall committees as well as being on the council's website. Interest in the project grew and without any great publicity, ten Eco Teams were set up throughout Angus and participants recorded their waste and recycling, energy and water use over a period of three months. To help them in their endeavours and to encourage participation, the Council provided Eco Team members with compost bins, green cones, wormeries, recycling boxes and low energy light bulbs. A team of "experts" were on hand to help individuals with any issues surrounding energy use, grants, etc. as well as assistance from the council's recycling officer. This innovative method of recruiting volunteers proved to be the most successful amongst the pilot local authorities.
Everyone who completed the programme received a free wind-up radio as a reward and participants were also invited on a trip to visit the Earthship and Ecology Centre in Fife where they learned more about the environment - 45 people came along on the outing and went home with some good ideas on how to be even more sustainable. Most people who took part in the programme really enjoyed it and very favourable feedback was received.
The Eco Team project required the Council to recruit 50 households to make up 8-10 Eco Teams. More than 80 people enquired about the project with 71 of them "signing up" to take part (more workbooks and videos had to be ordered to keep up with demand!). Ten Eco Teams were then set up in the various towns and villages across Angus. The project officer (environment strategy) co-ordinated and organised the initial meetings in each town and thereafter the teams met once a month to look at a different topic each month. The project officer kept enthusiasm going by attending some of the teams' later meetings to offer further support. In all, nearly 50 people completed the project and returned their forms for the three months.
The Eco Teams received their results individually. However, Global Action Plan also did an aggregated report on the results which showed that total waste had reduced by 3% but recycling had increased from an already huge 51% to a whopping 58%! The average Scottish family sends nearly 38kg to landfill every month - Angus Eco Teams sends only 18kg per month - less than half the Scottish average!
Energy use decreased by 38% - considering the project ran over the winter in Northeast Scotland, this was a very good result indeed. Also, most participants already recycled and were quite energy-efficient before joining the programme; otherwise the results may have been even more startling.
Some people who took part in the Eco Teams project are keen to carry on and do more "on the ground" projects and have volunteered to do some conservation work at a local nature reserve.
In all, this has proven to be a very useful and practical way of raising awareness locally and making contact with people in the community. Some members of the Eco Teams came along to a seminar the Council hosted on behalf of the Angus Environment Forum in May 2005 to launch the "State of the Environment Report" and have further increased their interest in the environment. Most Eco Team members have requested to be kept up to date with what is going on locally and are keen to receive regular information on environmental issues.
Aber-Dover News: Eco Footprint Special
As a follow up to the Brechin City Limits project, two schools in the Brechin area (Aberlemno and Andover Primary Schools) worked with Angus Digital Media Centre and CSV Dundee Media Action to produce a video/dvd about ecological footprint and ways of reducing our impact on the environment.
The children involved in the video wrote the script, interviewed various experts, and carried out the filming, editing and postproduction procedures themselves. The video takes the form of a news report and highlights issues related to reducing the ecological footprint and the possible consequences of not doing so. The video tackles issues such as waste and recycling, energy from waste, biodiversity, transport, local food and farm shops, and shows a weather forecast highlighting the children's ideas on the consequences of global warming. The children recommend walking to school, saving energy, recycling and shopping locally through various bulletins and interviews. As well as the main version of the video, a shorter "highlights" version has been produced along with a "Making of" version showing behind the scenes footage.
The 'Buy Local in Angus' project produced a giant digital map detailing farm shops across the county in order to encourage people to buy high-quality food locally, thus supporting local producers as well as reducing transport and fuel impacts. Two senior pupils from Brechin High School together with Susannah Silver of the Angus Digital Media Centre scoured the countryside in Angus to locate the farm shops, took photographs and interviewed the farmers. The photographs were used to "frame" the map and the names and details of the products sold were tagged onto the map showing their location. The map is interactive and visitors to the centre were asked to complete a tag and place it on the map if they knew of a farm shop that has been missed - thus helping to complete the project.
Both projects went on display at the Angus Digital Media Centre (in Brechin) as part of a four-strand exhibition entitled "X-Country: Marking the Land" which ran to 10th September 2004. A grand launch event took place on 30 June 2004, which attracted more than 80 visitors. His Royal Highness, The Duke of Edinburgh paid a visit to the exhibition the following day as part of a Royal Tour of Angus whereby the children performed a live version of the video for the Duke's benefit. HRH Prince Phillip chatted to the children about the project and also inspected the Farm Shop Map.
Brechin City Limits
At the same time as the Angus wide ecological footprint was being calculated a further project was being carried out in Brechin - to determine the size of Brechiner's eco footprint. At the time, Angus Council was seeking methods of engaging with the community to raise awareness of and instigate action in relation to Local Agenda 21 issues. Therefore it was decided to carry out a survey of households in the Brechin area to determine the size of the average household's ecological footprint. This involved inviting people to complete a questionnaire regarding their lifestyles, e.g. questions on travel, energy use, water, and shopping, waste and the local environment.
This was the first community based eco footprint project in Scotland. An eco footprint is normally calculated as a desktop exercise looking at resource flows in and out of an area and the results are then fed back to the community. However, this exercise involved the community in gathering the information to formulate the footprint.
Questionnaires were given out through schools in the Brechin area but were also available to the public through the libraries, housing office, and the local community centre. People were encouraged to take part through money-off vouchers for items that would help reduce their footprint, e.g. low energy "A" rated white goods and window blinds - donated by local stores. Other local businesses donated items for a prize draw, e.g. Safeway donated an organic hamper and other local stores donated a brand new bicycle, wild bird food and organic dog food. Everyone who participated in the project and returned a completed questionnaire received a free low energy light bulb.
Children participating through the schools all received a free goodie bag (made out of unbleached cotton), containing items which reinforce the message, e.g. recycled pens, pencils, rubbers, rulers, mouse mats (donated by the Scottish Executive), and wildflower seeds (donated by Scottish Natural Heritage) as well as leaflets containing information about the environment.
Pre publicity included a leaflet explaining the project and the concept of eco footprinting being placed in the lid of every household's bin. Some publicity was also given through the local press, which included a photograph of schoolchildren participating in one of the schools and another with the businesses who sponsored the prizes.
A paper questionnaire was produced (on 100% recycled paper) because schoolchildren needed to take it home for help to complete it. However, people were encouraged to complete the questionnaire "on-line" at Best Foot Forward's website (Best Foot Forward are the consultants who developed the questionnaire and calculated the footprint). Most of the schools made arrangements for the children to complete their questionnaires "on-line" and the website also included a facility for teachers to request an eco footprint for their class.
The questionnaire also contained an insert page giving "Footprint Tips" on how to reduce the size of a household's footprint. The "Footprint Tips" page was loose and could be retained by the recipient for future reference. The schools also received a "Footprint Challenge" leaflet giving numerous ideas for projects and offering prizes for the best ones.
The results showed that the average household in Brechin had an ecological footprint of 4.4. gha per person - slightly lower than the Angus footprint (4.78) but still substantially higher than the earthshare of slightly less than 2 gha.
Angus Ecological Footprint
In 2003, Angus Council was the first local authority in Scotland to commission an analysis to determine the size of the ecological or eco footprint of Angus. An ecological footprint is a way of calculating the impact we are having on the environment and the use of its resources. The ecological footprint of a region or community can be said to be the bioproductive area (land and sea) that would be required to sustainably maintain current consumption, using prevailing technology. Imagine a glass dome over Angus, what area would this dome have to cover to ensure that the Angus population could maintain their current lifestyles using only the bioproductive space within the dome?
It has been calculated that for everyone on the planet to live within sustainable limits each person would need around 2 global hectares (the amount of available bioproductive land divided by population). The results of Angus' ecological footprint showed that Angus had an ecological footprint of 4.78 global hectares per capita. What this means is that if everyone on earth lived the way we do then we would need two and half planets to sustain us!
The full ecological footprint report was published in 2003 and forms part of the first State of the Environment Report for Angus and both documents can be found on the Publications page.
Angus Environment Forum
Under the umbrella of Community Planning the Angus Environment Forum (AEF) was set up to tackle environmental issues in Angus. The Angus Environment Forum consists of representatives from Angus Council, Scottish Natural Heritage, the Scottish Environment Protection Agency, Scottish Water and Communities Scotland.
In May 2005, the AEF developed and produced the first State of the Environment Report for Angus. The report and its findings were presented at a seminar held in Arbroath which was well attended by various agencies, community groups and members of the public. A further report updating the State of the Environment was produced and presented at a seminar again in Arbroath in 2006 (see Publications page for both documents).
Rosie Manson, Project Officer (Environment Strategy)
Direct Dial: 01307 473258, Email: email@example.com