In February 2019 Wirral Environmental Network was invited to talk at the Wirral Launch of Liverpool City Region Year of Environment.  The brief was to cover what Wirral organisations were already doing – to encourage people to get involved or use the ideas to start something themselves.

What follows is the speech we gave.

  1. Wirral Environmental Network has been a local advocate for the environment since 1985. We focus on environmental education, demonstrating sustainable lifestyles through projects and providing a hub for environmental organisations.

[We do run plenty of environmental projects of our own, but our strength is in our members and supporting the many other groups that are doing such great work across the Wirral]

  1. I’m going to lay my cards on the table – we want Wirral to be the greenest borough in the UK. We think we can do it and we think that Liverpool City Region Year of Environment 2019 can be a real catalyst for that

  1. The beauty of it is, that we have so much already happening and I’ve been given to lovely task of talking about it. Many of these groups are here today and I would encourage everyone to visit the stalls. If they are not here, you can come and talk to one of us at Wirral Environmental Network and we will put you in contact.

Our beautiful green spaces that contribute so much to health and well-being and mitigating the effects of pollution, is in no small part due to the hard work of many community groups, including:

  1. Friends of Parks Groups helping achieve 26[1] Green flag awards – the most Green Flags of any local authority in the North West.
  2. 30 In Bloom projects last year[2] – representing an huge amount of volunteer hours and agencies going all out to improve local areas
  3. Wirral Tree wardens – focused on the planting and care of trees across Wirral – they have a wonderful calendar of events and activities including blossom walks and apple festivals.
  4. Wirral Countryside volunteers – involved in everything from pond restoration to meadow management, heath restoration and hedge laying
  5. Wirral Wildlife – who, amongst other things, manage nature reserves in Wirral and keep records of our wildlife
  6. Pawprints who are doing fantastic work at Tam O’Shanter Farm bringing in new animals and restoring the natural areas. Together with a team of volunteers they are revitalising the site. They are inviting EVERYONE to take part.” If you haven’t been there for a while I would encourage you to do so.
  7. 40 allotment sites across the Wirral – healthy activity, healthy food, healthy communities. Waiting lists at many allotments are in excess of 100 – a sure sign of demand. But also consider community allotments such as Hoylake and Edward Kemp (Birkenhead)
  8. Community based growing including Health through horticulture, Green Umbrella Group and Falkland Road Organic Growers.
  9. Many groups and projects looking after our coastline, litter picking, marine animal saving, coastline protecting.

——–

Turning to all the local projects that focus on energy, transport and waste

  1. With the National Committee for Climate Change announcing last week that UK homes were unfit for the challenges of climate change[3], we are lucky to have Energy Project Plus based on the Wirral – Energy Project Plus is a fuel poverty organisation that helps households reduce their fuel consumption and manage their bills in part through the provision of energy saving measures like LED lightbulbs, insulation and even new, efficient boilers.
  2. Continuing the energy theme we have Wirral Community Renewables – which has already completed a feasibility investigation looking at local sites for solar generation
  3. With transport we have
    1. The Wheels for All cycling project in Birkenhead Park and 3 Pedal Away Centres[4] across the Wirral.
    2. Cycling Projects Bikes and boots scheme – kitting people out so they can get to work by bike or foot.
    3. Eastham Centre Community Cycle Hub who, also run a wonderful bike reuse and recycling scheme.
  4. On the waste front we have
    1. Wirral Surfers against Sewage led campaign with and the 60 organisations already designated plastic free champions. We are well on the way to becoming a plastic free borough.
    2. Terracyle recycling collection points in schools, colleges, community buildings and even a dentists practise. We encourage prevention rather than recycling, but if you have any hard to recycle items, look for a Terracycle collection point or even start one yourselves.
    3. The reduce message is getting out there – swishing (or clothes swap schemes) are popping up and on the back of the success of the Refresh Project and Project UP, we have a number of potential furniture reuse activities about to start.
    4. We also have Warp-It Portal – managed by Community Action Wirral – a reuse portal for items no longer needed by Wirral Council or Cheshire and Wirral NHS Trust. Items available to community groups.
  5. And Water? Wirral Refill was launched earlier this month and we have 35 Refill points so far – you can find them on the Refill app. We also have a number of Wirral based water efficiency businesses…but more of that later

—————-

  1. We’ve got pan Wirral Groups such as
    1. The Cool Wirral Partnership of local and regional groups. Currently working on the Wirral Climate Change Strategy and Action Plan. All are welcome to contribute and get involved – what an opportunity to state our ambition and joint plans.
    2. We have more eco-schools than any other borough, many of them with their own Green Flag award. The eco-church movement is strong across the Wirral – we’ve had the most eco-churches in the northwest and the only silver eco-church in the city region.

————–

  1. Quickly highlighting some of the area specific groups such as Transition Town West Kirby, Incredible Edibles Hoylake, Sustainable Seacombe, Planet Heswall and Sustainability Central (focused around Wirral Waters and surrounding areas).
  2. Transition Town West Kirby are crowd funding to help them with the annual Wirral Earthfest this year. It’s a wonderful event, put on by a committed group of people who would really appreciate your support. Find them on JustGiving or speak to them about getting involved.

—————-

  1. Being green is also good for the economy. Community organisations generate income and work with many businesses. Here on the Wirral we have
    1. 3 new Zero waste shops opened in the last 6 months
    2. The longstanding Recipro – with it’s catalogue of excess and reusable building materials available for charities and community projects. They run our local community repaint scheme, but are also of the few Community RePaint remanufacturing centres in the country
    3. Recycling Lives Wirral – recycling and waste management operations supporting a number of charity programmes
    4. Green Mole – part of Mole engineering, who amongst other things offer the smart flower – the only UK organisation to do so
    5. Symphony EV – ZE who have provided 60+ charging points across Liverpool City Region
    6. B&M waste and recycling who are currently offering a fee waste audit to organisations
    7. Blooming eco – who sell and manage bottle return and refill for cleaning products, plant based and manufactured in Birkenhead
    8. Aqualogic – a Wallasey based company operating nationally. Offering range of services including utility company leak detection through to water efficiency audits and products
    9. Evridrop – domestic and commercial rainwater harvesting
    10. Stiebel Eltron UK – international renewable energy co. whose only UK base is on the Wirral

A tiny snapshot of the green businesses here on the Wirral. Find out more from the Wirral Chamber who have issued an open invite to their Energy & Environmental forum event on Tuesday 12th March at Lauries Centre

There is so much happening, but so much to do. Luckily we have the people, organisations and opportunities to do it.

Lets see if this year we can

  1. Ditch the car and choose walking, cycling or public transport instead
  2. Fly less and take a break in the UK
  3. Choose renewable energy, for the environment and for the economy
  4. Plant more trees, link up our beautiful green and blue spaces
  5. Improve our housing stock and insist on high standards for new build
  6. Grow and eat more veg – eat less meat
  7. Buy less – focusing on reducing and reusing and then recycling as much as we can
  8. So that’s it from me. I hope my gallop through what’s happening shows that there are many projects on the Wirral that are supporting Liverpool City Region Year of Environment.
  9. And I know that if we work together, community groups with the support of businesses, third sector and the council, we can make Wirral the Greenest Borough in the UK

Over to you Phil.

[1] https://wirralview.com/news/wirral-parks-and-open-spaces-are-once-again-nationally-recognised

[2] https://wirralview.com/news/awards-galore-wirrals-bloom-entries

[3] https://www.theccc.org.uk/2019/02/21/uk-homes-unfit-for-the-challenges-of-climate-change-ccc-says/

[4] https://cycling.org.uk/locations