British Holiday and Home Parks Association, David Bellamy Conservations Awards

British Holiday and Home Parks Association, David Bellamy Conservations Awards

Introduction

Introduction

One of the key things that the David Bellamy Conservation Award Scheme assessors are asked to do is to look at how parks manage environmental issues. This is important because, getting the management of the issues right can actually help a park to:

  • Streamline its approach.
  • Get the job done more effectively.
  • Reap the maximum benefits.

This section provides an introduction to park environmental management and pro-forma tables that you can use to create environmental management plans. You can also click here to download an in-depth article on park environmental management.

The best place to start is to look at your organisation to see where its strengths and weakness lie in terms of its impact on the environment. From this you can highlight steps you need to take to reduce your park’s environmental ‘footprint’ and boost its value to wildlife. This ‘benchmarking’ exercise is an important first step as it shows you where best to focus your work.

There are of course many consultants out there only too willing to take your money off you to do such a job of work – and it may indeed be worthwhile getting them in, especially if yours is a large, complex park. However there are a number of other options, the first of which is to take part in the Bellamy Award Scheme! Your assessor will look at all aspects of your park management and provide you with a written report detailing environmental strengths and weaknesses along with a list of recommendations about how you can improve. This is a great starting point.

Whether you take part in the Bellamy scheme or not, the other approach you can consider is to do a ‘do it yourself’ assessment. This should involve breaking your park’s environmental activities and impacts down into their key elements. Then for each of these different aspects you should set out to see how you are doing. There is, of course, no need to look at everything at once if you do not have the time or resources. Instead you could focus on one element (say ecological management) first, and then assess other issues (say energy consumption) later.

In terms of assessing your ecological management the best approach is to undertake a base-line survey of the habitats and species you have on your site and taking a ‘snap shot’ of how you organise the horticultural and ecological management of your land. Equally, when it comes to waste management, water use, energy consumption and the consumption of other resources (from caravans to carbon paper) it is important to get a picture of the current state of play. So take a look at both your operations (how you do things) and get a measure of your performance (whether it’s the amount of energy you are using, the amount of water youflush away or the amount of rubbish you recycle). This means that you will have to do a bit of legwork and dig out any relevant documentation and records such as bills and meter readings, waste disposal records and purchase orders.

There are a number of other issues to consider as you build up a picture of your current environmental performance, these include legal compliance, your current employee training programme, your purchasing policy and your relationship with your key contractors. All should be assessed to see how you are performing from an environmental point of view. The best place to start to look at legal compliance is the BH&HPA members’ handbook. Another place to look for guidance is the Netregs website (www.netregs.gov.uk) which provides an on-line tool to help you assess your company’s environmental compliance.

Park Environmental Policy | ^ Back to top

A simple environmental policy can form the cornerstone of any park or company’s environmental management approach. According to Envirowise (an organisation that supplies free government-supported environmental consultation, advice, and documentation for UK businesses), an environmental policy is ‘a written statement outlining an organisation’s mission in relation to managing the environmental effects and aspects of its operations’. In other words it sets out a series of commitments about how a business is going to improve its environmental performance and allows people to see a company’s aims and objectives. For this reason a good park environmental policy will provide a touchstone for all staff, visitors and residents that lets them know what direction a park is going in and how it aims to get there.

Envirowise suggest three main things that should be kept in mind when drafting up a statement:

  • keep the statement short – if it’s longer than a sheet of A4, then it’s probably too long.
  • the statement is meant for everyone to see, so make sure it’s easy to read and understand.
  • the statement must be realistic, achievable and relevant to your organisation’s activities and practices.

The group also notes that it is vital to get commitment to making the policy work and that the statement should therefore be signed, dated and endorsed by the park owner or senior manager.

What should a park’s statement say? | ^ Back to top

It should state that your park will, as a minimum, meet all relevant environmental legislation and that it will commit itself to improve its environmental performance over time. It should then lay out the key areas of action and what your park aims to do in each. Finally it should show that a park means business and that all these good words will be backed up with commitment, training and resources.

Of course, each park’s statement will be as unique as each park, however a sample statement has been provided below. As you will see such a statement is a springboard for a wide range of actions – it is not a policy to be signed up to lightly!

Sample park environmental policy statement | ^ Back to top

We are committed to:

  • Work to enhance the value of our park for wildlife
  • Comply with the requirements of relevant environmental legislation and approved codes of practice
  • Assess the environmental impact of all current and likely future operations
  • Reduce the pollution and waste produced by our park operations
  • Reduce the consumption of all raw materials (including water), energy and supplies on our park
  • Train employees in environmental matters and encourage them to take a lead on environmental improvement projects
  • Expect high environmental standards from all our suppliers and contractors
  • Help our customers to do their bit for the environment
  • Help our customers to enjoy the wildlife on the park and to participate in its conservation
  • Work as a ‘good neighbour’ in our locality by supporting our local community and economy
  • Support local conservation projects

To be meaningful a policy must be a set of statements that a park really intends to commit to – not just ‘hot air’. This means that its development must be carefully considered, preferably as part of an overall assessment of park environmental action. The best environmental policies are those that have been drawn up with the full involvement of staff – this helps get their commitment to action. On residential parks, residents can also be involved in the development of an environmental statement – they are, after all, going to have to live with the consequences!

Once it has been finalised, an environmental policy statement should be prominently displayed where it can be seen and regularly discussed with park staff (and visitors if they are interested).

Opportunities and Action Plans | ^ Back to top

As you assess your park’s performance, the key thing to do is to look for opportunities for improvement. For example when you look at your office buildings, you may find that you are not using the most efficient light bulbs and that you could install reflectors to improve the effectiveness of your strip lighting. Or perhaps, you are not maximising the environmental potential of your grassland areas and could look at setting aside a corner of your park for a wildflower meadow area.

Making these sorts of judgement calls, requires a working knowledge of the alternatives and options – and, perhaps most importantly, an assessment of comparative costs, potential savings and payback periods. A lot of information on these issues is contained in this resource section. The rest of the web is, of course, another fantastic resource to investigate your options.

Once you have gathered this information together, then you can properly balance your potential improvement options against each other. You can then prioritise your work based on the impact it will have and the investment needed to make it happen. From this ground work you can them develop a series of policies and environmental action plans for your park.

Putting it down in writing | ^ Back to top

To help you in this work, you can use our pro-forma tables (click on the issue you are interested in) as a way to structure your ecological, energy, water and waste environmental management plans. In each row list the projects that you have drawn up through your park assessment process. Then when the project has been completed report on your achievements. Such a completed plan will be very useful to your assessor. Most importantly, it will allow you to see how you are doing and help you move forward in a planned manner. These plans should be reviewed periodically and updated as projects are completed and new projects added. As projects are finished record what you have done so you can keep track of your achievements

In each table some representative sections have been filled in to give you an indication of how they can be completed. Remember, that if possible, give your specific plans measurable targets and deadlines. If you make these realistic you will have more chance of success.