Following On From COP26

Perth Ambassadors Network held its first post-lockdown, in-person event on Thursday 10th March, which focused businesses on moving forward from COP26.

Attendees from across-industry were invited to question leading sustainability experts on how the five key themes of COP26 could shape strategy and impact future processes, with Mike Robinson, Chief Exec of the Royal Scottish Geographical Society and Chair of Perth City Leadership Forum, chairing the event.

The Panel (left to right) facing questions from business:

  • Thomas Glen, Chief Executive of Perth & Kinross Council
  • Morven Smith, Head of Community Investment (Sustainability), SSE
  • Mike Robinson, Chief Executive of Royal Scottish Geographical Society and Chair of the Perth City Leadership Forum
  • Morwen Mands, Head of Sustainability, Highland Spring Group
  • John Ferguson, Head of Strategy, Binn Group
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Perth's leading sustainability experts.

Photo Credit: Fraser Band for Invest in Perth

Mike commented, “As the first Ambassador event for two years, it was hugely encouraging to see such a significant turnout of senior business leaders from across the area – although unsurprising, given the magnitude of the subject matter.”

“PCLF has set out a key objective to see Perth take its place as the most sustainable small city in Europe and it is imperative, that as a collective, businesses across Perth and Kinross galvanise to take action in the fight against climate change. Not because Government has told us we need to, but because it is in our own best interest.”

The panel answered questions around post-COP priorities for Perth and the wider region, commented on what public and private sector could do differently, and discussed innovative projects already underway in our region such as advancements at Binn Eco Park, the rail freight development at Highland Spring, and SSE’s global leadership in offshore windfarms.

Thomas Glen, PKC Chief Exec commented, “When we consider COP26 as a moment in time, the challenge for everyone is ‘where do we go now?’ As a local authority PKC has clear ambitions as laid out in our climate change strategy and action plan. What’s important is that we take those plans and form them into actions that bring balance and impact across society, economy, and environment.

“And that means doing things differently. For us this means looking at our asset base and ensuring it is fit for the future as demonstrated in the commitment to the new £90m PH20 which will significantly reduce our carbon emissions. Our investment in enabling infrastructure at Perth West to support Eco Innovation investment and our Green Recovery Grants for local businesses.”

It’s important that our plans form actions that bring balance and impact across society, economy, and environment.

Morwen Mands, Head of Sustainability for Highland Spring Group

Since Highland Spring Group was founded over 40 years ago, our core purpose has been to provide healthy hydration in an environmentally sustainable way. The Good Shopping guide has recognised Highland Spring as the UK’s leading ethical bottled water brand for the last fourteen years demonstrating our long-term commitment to sustainability.

At a critical point for the climate, we carefully consider every step of our products journey, from source to shelf. We were the first natural source water brand to receive organic accreditation from The Soil Association for our protected catchment area, which we have held since 2001. To support healthy eco-systems, our biodiversity programme aims to increase flora, fauna and wildlife on our catchment by 2025.

As a responsible producer, we take our role in the circular economy seriously and work hard to minimise the environmental impact of our packaging. The business continues to innovate by exploring new sustainable packaging formats and reduce the amount of packaging we use. We welcome the introduction of a Deposit Return Scheme and see this as crucial to increasing recycling rates, reducing litter and increasing the availability of good quality recycled materials to use in our products.

Our new dedicated rail freight facility in Blackford will enable us to transport goods in an environmentally sustainable way, remove 8,000 HGV movements from the road and reduce emissions by 3,200 tonnes CO2e each year.

In 2021, we announced our ambition to work towards a 50% reduction in emissions by 2030 and target net zero emissions by 2040.

Morven Smith, Head of Community Investment & Sustainability

Headquartered in Perth, SSE is the UK and Ireland’s national clean energy champion, and we're investing £12.5bn by 2026. This equates to around £7m a day to be spent on critical low-carbon infrastructure needed in net zero transition. We have developed a Net Zero Acceleration Plan to allow us to deliver the electricity infrastructure needed in the transition to net zero.

  • By 2026, our Net Zero Acceleration Programme will deliver:
  • £1bn additional capital investment per year versus previous plans
  • A doubling of existing renewables net installed capacity to 8GW
  • A sustainable renewables development pipeline in excess of 15GW
  • Over 2.5 times more capital allocated to renewables growth
  • Growth in electricity networks, increasing Regulated Asset Value (RAV) to £9bn

The investment we are making will enable delivery of over a quarter of the UK’s 40GW offshore wind target by 2030. We are currently constructing more offshore wind than anyone else in the world right now. In addition, it will deliver over 20% of the necessary electricity networks investment in the UK and support pioneering carbon capture, hydrogen and battery technologies to deliver system flexibility.

Morven Smith, SSE’s Head of Community Investment said: “It was great to be part of the Perth and Kinross Ambassador’s event and hear what others are doing to make the transition to net zero. It is clear from the attendance at the event, that people in Perth and Kinross are very engaged and want to be part of the solution and it’s important that we all support each other in working towards a common goal.”

John Ferguson, Head of Strategy at Binn Eco Park

The Binn Group has been quietly building on the solid foundation of their decades-old waste management business, to become a leading company in the field of decarbonisation. Based at the family farm in Glenfarg, Binn Ecopark is an established and growing circular economy-focused resource management centre and is the only organisation of its type to fully process all its waste – some 500,000 tonnes annually – using green power.

Binn Ecopark has been heralded as the most integrated and low-carbon resource management facility in the UK; the site processes over 500,000 tonnes of waste annually – 300,000 of which is generated via their own waste management services – and currently includes two Material Reclamation Facilities (MRF) treating commercial, industrial and municipal waste, an anaerobic digestion facility, in-vessel and green-waste composting facilities, a Residual Waste Solid Recovered Fuel Plant and a waste wood processing and storage facility.

As well as this investment in infrastructure and future technology, the site aims to develop a training, education, research and development centre, promoting low-carbon and clean technology systems. The company’s transport focus includes electrical and hydrogen vehicles.

“In 2019, we signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the local authority, Perth and Kinross Council. The MOU aims to develop a structured approach to discussions, co-ordination and joint promotion to attract further investment, research and employment opportunities to Binn Ecopark and the city.

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There are a variety of ways that you can get involved within your community and contribute towards collective action.

  • The recently launched offers simple advice for residents, communities and small businesses with signposting to environmental initiatives and voluntary opportunities. Sign up yourself and share the links and video assets with your network.
  • The Climate Solutions Course from RSGS offers a simple and quick way to gain significant understanding, assisting individuals and organisations for the transformation to net zero and outlining where the opportunities lie. Could your organisation build its knowledge?

Or, if you're looking for guidance on starting your own project, get in touch with the Climate Change and Sustainable Development Team to discuss potential support and collaboration.

E:[email protected]

15 March 2022 By Nicola Martin

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