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Going green is a complex task

It’s been interesting to see a growing number of organisations declaring a Climate Emergency as they redouble efforts to reduce carbon emissions. Even those members of ours who have not gone so far as to make a formal declaration, fully appreciate the benefits of doing what they can to follow a green agenda, not least when it brings savings on things like energy bills.

But the pursuit of doing the right thing can be a bit more complicated than it looks at first sight and today I’d like to talk about two examples which I think illustrate the problem.

Buildings are among the main generators of carbon emissions so anything you can do to improve their insulation has got to be good news. That poses a problem in Bath’s many listed buildings which are bound by regulations which restrict things like the installation of double glazing. A few years back I thought St John’s Hospital had cracked it by getting permission to use specialised double glazing in one of their buildings.

Unfortunately any hopes that this would have created a precedent which many others could use were dashed and each application has to be looked at on a case by case basis. Surely when climate and history collide we can find a way to create a new flexibility ?

The second example is Bristol Airport, which is seeking planning permission to further develop the site to allow it to accommodate up to 12 million passengers from the current 10 million. Opponents have complained bitterly about the scheme, pointing out how much in the way of emissions come from aviation, but many business people feel having a well connected regional airport is a significant benefit to the local economy.

If there was no Bristol Airport at all, would that stop you flying ? Or would it just mean you took off from somewhere further afield ? Figures from the Civil Aviation Authority show that 4 million short haul trips were made by people from the South West in 2019 from London Airports and more than half the journeys were made by car. If Bristol Airport offered more destinations to Europe would that mean fewer motoring miles and actually contribute to lower emissions ?

In short there are many factors to be taken into account when it comes to supporting the green agenda. Businesses are ready to play their part but there needs to be an appreciation of the pressures they are under and the cost implications they face of going green. By working together in an open minded way we can achieve the best outcome for all sides.


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