Environmental Conference promises sustainable future

Two major environmental initiatives were launched at the Isle of Wight Council’s Environmental Conference, held in Cowes on Tuesday.

A feature of the day was the signing of the Biosphere Nomination, endorsed by Cllr Dave Stewart, leader of the Isle of Wight Council; the Island’s MP, Bob Seely; and Professor Matthew Cragoe of the UK Man and Biosphere Committee.

The Nomination will now go to the Government before being sent to UNESCO in Paris. If successful, the Isle of Wight will be only the third Biosphere Reserve in England.

The second big announcement of the day was the launch of the Green Impact scheme from the Isle of Wight Chamber of Commerce.

This innovative and award-winning national scheme will now be available on the Isle of Wight, encouraging businesses and organisations to develop sustainable ways of working.

The Green Impact scheme is also a way to engage students in the community and with future employers, and to raise the profile of the Isle of Wight as a place to live and work.

The Council drew together over 180 delegates from organisations, businesses and schools across the Island and beyond.

Following an inspiring keynote video address from Sir Ben Ainslie, conference delegates worked on ideas for the Council’s Environmental Action Plan, to be delivered this year by the cabinet member for environment and heritage, Councillor John Hobart.

Cllr Stewart said: “Our ambition today was to look at what comes next. During the last election campaign the Conservative party promised that the Isle of Wight Council would hold this conference and I am very pleased that today, we delivered on that promise.

“But that is only the start. What we intend to do now is to put together an Environmental Action Plan and begin to deliver.

“This means moving the Island towards a more sustainable and resilient future as well as protecting our finest landscapes, coasts, and wildlife: the very reasons people are attracted to the Island and which continue to provide our great quality of life.”

Bob Seely said: “I am delighted to sign and support the Biosphere nomination. Achieving this international protection for the Island will be great news. It will help us secure our beautiful landscape for future generations. It’s testament not only to our landscape but also our people.

“Looking after our Island is vitally important if we are to keep our unique quality of life.

“The council is to be congratulated for organising the conference and taking action to protect the Island in this way.”

Councillor Hobart said: “This has been an outstanding opportunity to set us off in the right direction for the forthcoming Environmental Action Plan.

“I heard so many good ideas today, and I’m determined to take these forward into a plan that will take this council, and the whole Island, into a greener future.”