Bristol has been shortlisted for the prestigious European Green Capital award for the second time – an accolade the city council leader hopes will make the government “sit up and take notice” of the city’s potential.
Just three cities out of 19 who put themselves forward are in the running, with Bristol joined by Frankfurt and Copenhagen in the running for the 2014 award.
Bristol is the only UK city to be nominated for the award and missed out in 2010 to Stockholm.
Speaking to Bristol24-7, council leader Barbara Janke said the announcement was a “fantastic coup” for Bristol.
“The green agenda has been a major commitment of our administration and we feel we have put in the investment and commitment. This is a major accolade for the city,” she said.
“We feel we are in with a good chance of winning when we make our presentation in June.
“We have demonstrated real advances through our many partnerships with individuals and community groups, businesses and other public agencies as well as strong economic benefits to the city.”
Bristol’s bid this time highlighted a number of projects as reasons why it should win the award for 2014. These include:
- An energy efficiency programme which has improved over 34,000 homes since 2001 through insulation and new energy systems;
- Along with the improvements made by home owners themselves this has increased the energy efficiency of the city by 30%;
- The council has reduced its own energy use by 22% since 2003, saving an estimated £430k per year in energy bills;
- The amount of waste Bristol is now sending to landfill is less than 20%, compared to around 80% in 2004, and recycling has reached over 50% in the last few months;
- The city has improved its carbon efficiency by 40% from 2005 – 2009, producing 40% more value per tonne of carbon emitted by local businesses;
- The council has set up a Community Challenge Fund to help local environmental community groups and organisations, and so far has provided grants to over 20 groups;
- Cycling City has added over 40 miles of new cycle paths and improved a further 140 miles , and installed hundreds of cycle stands;1,200 trees have been planted by the council in the last year and it is planned that 10,000 will be planted by 2015;
- Some 1,000 green volunteers have been recruited, who work with community projects across the city, improving neighbourhoods through schemes such as food-growing and energy-saving.
The announcement comes in the wake of Bristol’s failed bid to host the government’s Green Investment Bank. Edinburgh was given the accolade of hosting the bank, which will be created to fund green energy and sustainable development projects, in a move which many saw as being politically motivated. It was claimed that placing the bank in Scotland would help in the government ‘s bid to prevent a yes vote in a Scottish referendum on independence.
Ms Janke said she hoped the government would now “sit up and take notice” of Bristol’s green strengths.
And, in a nod to the upcoming referendum on an elected mayor for Bristol, she added that the news showed what could be achieved with the present set-up.
“We are telling a real story here and it has nothing to do with the hype of an elected mayor,” she said. “This is what matters to Bristol – not whether we have an elected mayor or not.”
Bristol now has until June 8, when it will be invited to submit its vision, action plan and communication strategy along with the other two finalists to the jury panel of the European Green Capital Award 2014.
The jury will consist of high-level representatives from the European Parliament, the European Environment Agency, ICLEI, Local Governments for Sustainability, the European Environmental Bureau, the Covenant of Mayors Office and the Committee of the Regions.
The announcement of the winning city will be made later that month.
For more information on the award, visit: http://ec.europa.eu/