About This Blog

Welcome to Hughes's News. Its primary purpose is to offer resources with which people on the Bellarine Peninsula can explore issues concerning developments in their local area.

I've produced some of those resources, including summaries and analyses of some of the Structure Plans produced by the City of Greater Geelong (the relevant local planning authority) and articles and letters that I have written concerning those plans and their implications. The remaining resources are items produced by other people that I've found useful in my work.

A secondary - and unrelated - purpose of Hughes's News is to offer my views on books that I've read recently. These books don't necessarily concern development issues on the Bellarine. I've read most of them as a result of my membership of the Springdale Book Group. The group meets at the Springdale Centre in Drysdale High Street on the first Monday of each month at 7.30 p.m. for about 90 minutes - ending with a cup of tea. New members are always very welcome. For more details, contact the Springdale Centre on (03) 5253 1960.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Eric Clapton: the autobiography

Eric Clapton: the autobiography. (2007) (With Christopher Simon Sykes) London: Century.

Summary
Eric Clapton was born on 30 March 1945 and has been playing guitar for the past 47 years. Like most children in post-war Britain, Clapton’s early musical ‘education’ came from BBC radio, folk clubs and occasional imported folk, jazz and blues records. Initially, he played the growing network of blues and folk clubs in South-East England, then between 1963 and 1965 he was a member of The Yardbirds (1963-65).

Clapton left The Yardbirds, whom he thought were becoming too commercial and joined John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers (1965-66). Then came Cream (1966-68), which established Clapton as an international star; the short-lived Blind Faith (1968-69), then time as a ‘sideman’ with Delaney and Bonnie (1969-70), which spawned Derek and the Dominoes (1970). In between time, Clapton played on various albums, notably the Beatles’ White Album and George Harrison’s All Things Must Pass; and was a member of John Lennon’s one-off Plastic Ono Band.

Then came three years as a heroin addict, during which Clapton retreated from the music business and the world at large. He ‘came back’ as a solo artist, recording a series of albums starting with 461 Ocean Boulevard (1974), each featuring a mix of styles including reggae, gospel, pop and rock. However, Clapton retained his affection for the blues and has released several blues albums: From the Cradle (1994), a CD of Chicago blues; Riding with the King (2000), a collaboration with B. B. King; and Me and Mr. Johnson (2004), his tribute to Robert Johnson. Clapton’s Unplugged (1992) remains his best-selling album and mixes blues standards with his own compositions.

My comments
The Autobiography chronicles all those events well enough, but it adds very little to the various biographies of Clapton, dating back as far as Ray Coleman’s Clapton! The authorised biography (1985). I had hoped to find out more about the guitars and the music, but while Clapton gives detailed descriptions of his first two guitars, how he chose them and what they were like to play, he writes virtually nothing more about his guitars and barely mentions most of his music. Indeed, Wikipedia’s current entry for Eric Clapton is a better source – it carries quite a good discussion of some of his better-known guitars and has an extensive discography and a list of artists with whom Clapton has played (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eric_Clapton).

In contrast to the superficial treatment of the music, The Autobiography reveals a lot about Clapton’s addictions to drugs and alcohol. However, he presents these harrowing events in such bland terms that he could have been writing about fishing – of which he does a lot. Towards the end of the book, Clapton writes warmly of his wife and children and about his work to establish a drug and alcohol rehabilitation centre in Antigua. This begins to colour-in what, until then, had been a very two-dimensional and formulaic picture of the man.

Eric Clapton continues to be a major figure in the world of the blues, but if you’re looking to learn about his relationship with blues music, then you’re probably better off listening to his records than reading The Autobiography.

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Structure Plan in action: rezoning drysdale


The City of Greater Geelong wants to change land-use in four areas of Drysdale through Amendments C194 and C103 to its Greater Geelong Planning Scheme. Through these two amendments, the Council wants to rezone the area bounded by High, Eversleigh & Princess Streets in Drysdale from 'Residential' to 'Business', with a consequent rates increase; and the area bounded by Princess and Woodville Streets, Clarendon Road & the back of the buildings facing Murradoc Road in Drysdale from 'Farming' and 'Low Density Residential' to 'Residential 1' (i.e. high density housing), with a consequent rates increase. The Council also wants to rezone other properties in Drysdale to 'Residential'. These are the (Council-owned) properties at 9-15 Spring St. and 17-29 Spring St. , plus 13a Princess Street. Finally, the Council wants to rezone land next to the Potato Shed to develop it as a recreational 'hub'.

Each Amendment has been exhibited for public consultation and each is likely to increase residents' rates. The closing date for public comments was 18 January, by which time the Council had received around 20 submissions. One of those submissions was mine; the text follows.

SUBMISSION to the Strategic Planning Unit, City of Greater Geelong, concerning the proposed Amendments C194 and C103 to the Greater Geelong Planning Scheme.

I am a resident of Drysdale whose life will be affected by these Amendments and I am also concerned about the effects of these Amendments on the lives and wellbeing of people in the area that they target for rezoning. Consequently, I believe that the City of Greater Geelong (CoGG) should not adopt proposed Amendments C194 and C103, I have for seven reasons for my opposition.

First, I believe that Amendment C194 should not be even considered, let alone adopted, until there is far more detailed information available about the proposed rezoning of the Regional Community and Cultural Hub site. Does the Council wish to rezone it to 'Mixed Use' so that forms of development are possible other than a Regional Community and Cultural Hub? Have local people said that they wish to lose their planned Regional Community and Cultural Hub even before it has been designed? As a local resident, I certainly have received no such information.

Second, 'public consultation' around these Amendments has happened when most people are either preparing for holidays or taking them. While the Council may respond that it has extended the statutory period of 'public consultation' by a month to take account of this, past experience should show the Council that this is inadequate. As a local resident, I'm aware that the Council arranged the 'public consultation' on its draft Drysdale & Clifton Springs Structure Plan in an equivalent period - the end of 2008 and the beginning of 2009 - and was criticised for it in the submissions it received. I'm also aware that many people who made submissions concerning that draft feel that their views were ignored.

Third, I believe that Amendment C194 should not be adopted, because it contradicts CoGG's Structure Plan for Drysdale & Clifton Springs. The press adverts inviting public comment on Amendment C194 say that the Amendment will introduce a new clause to the Greater Geelong Planning scheme that will, 'include the land use directions and policies identified in the adopted Drysdale/Clifton Springs Structure Plan April 2009'; and the 'Introduction' to that Structure Plan states that the Plan will, 'guide Council's consideration of proposed rezonings and applications for planning permits.' (p. 1). However, Amendment C194 proposes to rezone 17-29 Springs Street from Business 1 to Residential 1. This contradicts the Structure Plan, which recommends that:
'the Council owned land at 17-29 Springs Street, Clifton Springs, be rezoned from Business 1 to Mixed Use.' (Drysdale Clifton Springs Structure Plan April 2009 p. 17.)

The Structure Plan recommends rezoning this site to Mixed Use because it represents 'a good opportunity to provide an alternative use such as tourist accommodation.' (p.17); and such use would be consistent with the statement elsewhere in the Structure Plan that 'Strong State and Local Planning Policies provide directions for … promotion of tourist activities and accommodation.' (Drysdale Clifton Springs Structure Plan April 2009 p. 4. Emphasis added.) Rezoning the site to Residential 1 contradicts both of those statements about tourist accommodation.

Fourth, Amendment C103 should not be adopted because it would rezone parts of Murradoc Road to Residential 1. Creating still more dense housing in the town is unnecessary in the light of the planned 1,500-home Jetty Road development; and it is especially inappropriate in Murradoc Road, which holds major potential for the development of the sorts of high-tech light industry we need as we move towards a post-carbon economy. As a local resident, I've studied the Council's proposals (in its Structure Plan for Drysdale & Clifton Springs) for local economic and employment development, which amount to a few shops and a couple of tourist motels. These won't provide the sorts of high-skill, high-paying jobs that can offer our local young people alternatives to moving to Geelong and Melbourne. Most of the towns' services are situated in Murradoc Road already and it offers many opportunities for businesses in the area to create new sources of wealth. Despite these opportunities, the Council wants to see some more houses! As a local resident concerned about local unemployment, I can see no permanent, future-proof jobs in that 'vision' for the area. In my view, this Amendment should be radically revised with an eye to developing a vibrant economy in the area, not just another housing estate.

Fifth, Amendment C194 should not be adopted because it could increase the risk of flooding in Springs Street. Local people know that Springs Street has a history of flooding during heavy rain, yet it appears that they weren't consulted when this Amendment was drafted. Given the area's history, it seems only sensible that before any rezoning is contemplated, appropriate structural and hydrological surveys should determine the present risk of flooding in the area and assess the extent to which various forms of development could reduce or increase that risk.

Sixth, Amendment C194 would introduce dense housing at the expense of open space in Springs Street. The Amendment makes no case for introducing this relatively small pocket of dense housing in the open space in Springs Street; and it contains no justification for doing so at a time when the 1,500-home Stage 1 of the Jetty Road development will increase dense housing in the area very significantly.

Clifton Springs and Drysdale have been designated a growth area and will experience very significant expansion of buildings at the expense of open space. As a local resident who will experience that expansion, I approve of the Council's several statements (in its Structure Plan for Drysdale & Clifton Springs) that its intention is to retain the towns' traditional, rural character. These proposed Amendments contradict that intention. (See also my third reason.)

Seventh, I believe that neither Amendment C194 nor Amendment C103 should be even considered - far less adopted - unless and until all the people who live currently in the areas to be rezoned (the triangle bounded by High, Eversley and Princess Streets; and the area bounded by Clarendon Road, Princess Street, Woodville Street and the rear of Murradoc Road) have agreed freely to accept alternative equivalent accommodation.

The Council will undoubtedly use the proposed rezoning as a reason to raise these people's rates without increasing or improving the Council services they receive. The submissions to the Council's draft Structure Plan for Drysdale & Clifton Springs show that residents in these areas fear that they will be forced to move - either by rate rises or by compulsory purchase orders. While the proposed rezoning may increase the value of their property, this will benefit them only if they sell-up and move elsewhere and some, at least, of the residents do not wish to do so. Consequently, neither Amendment should be adopted until all of the current residents have accepted offers of alternative accommodation that is judged independently (e.g. by three independent real estate agents) to be equivalent to or better than their present homes; and there should be stringent, transparent measures to ensure that each resident takes their decision freely and without any external pressure whatever.

Patrick Hughes 15 January 2010

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

A Postcarbon Research and Resource Centre

A Postcarbon Research and Resource Centre on the Bellarine

Summary
1. Businesses, communities and educational/research organisations in the region of the Bellarine Peninsula should collaborate to establish a Postcarbon Research and Resource Centre on the Peninsula.
2. The Centre would:
  • advise businesses and communities on the Bellarine Peninsula on how to grasp the opportunities offered by the transition to a postcarbon economy
  • support business as they meet local needs in a postcarbon society
  • inform and educate local people about postcarbon societies, so that they can participate in creating one.
3. The first step in creating a Postcarbon Research and Resource Centre would
be to convene a meeting of potential stakeholders and funders to invite their participation in establishing the Centre.

Moving towards a post-carbon economy: the role of government
Societies moving towards a postcarbon economy face problems associated with the run-down of industries reliant on coal, oil and other carbon-based sources of energy. At the same time, they face opportunities in at least three areas:
• new industries manufacturing the new 'clean' technologies
• new agribusiness producing carbon credits and biofuels
• new jobs to replace those being lost.

Nicholas Stern (2009) has linked investment in 'clean' technologies with economic development. He was writing about 'developing' countries, but his argument is applicable more broadly:
To ignore a changing climate and what it implies would simply make for bad investments. Adaptation must be part of development. At the same time, development itself will be very important in adapting, as it encourages economic diversification and a more flexible workforce, both of which reduce vulnerability. It also generates the income necessary for robust investment and it fosters greater technical knowledge.1

There is growing evidence that governments can play a crucial role in the transition to postcarbon societies.2 Actively promoting the new industries, goods, services and jobs associated with a postcarbon economy attracts investment by high-tech, 'clean energy' companies, offering high-skill, well-paid jobs; and it increases local incomes which, in turn, attract new firms in the services sector.

Despite that growing evidence, the City of Greater Geelong has no substantive strategy to promote business and employment on the Bellarine Peninsula - including Drysdale and Clifton Springs - in the postcarbon era. In the Council's Drysdale and Clifton Springs Structure Plan, its view of the towns' economic development is restricted to encouraging some more shops and some more tourism - and it offers no strategy to promote even these meagre ideas. Similarly, the Council's Bellarine Peninsula Strategic Plan 2006-2016 lacks any substantive strategy to promote business and employment across the Bellarine peninsula.

Both the Structure Plan and the Strategic Plan have a clear view that local populations should and will increase, but neither Plan offers any strategy to meet these increased populations' economic and employment needs. Similarly, both Plans are clear that there will be a growing demand for housing, but neither Plan offers any economic and employment strategy to ensure that the new residents can repay their mortgages.

In the absence of a government-led substantive business and employment strategy, towns on the Bellarine Peninsula - including Drysdale and Clifton Springs - will continue to export jobs and spending to Geelong and Melbourne. An alternative approach is to regard the Bellarine as a 'green field' demonstration site for a postcarbon economy; and to reap the benefits in terms of increased jobs that the shift to such an economy is likely to create, at least in the short term.3 The first step in that alternative approach is to establish a Postcarbon Research and Resource Centre to advise, support and inform local businesses and communities as they move towards the postcarbon era.

A Postcarbon Research and Resource Centre on the Bellarine Peninsula
AIMS
• To advise businesses and communities on the Bellarine Peninsula how to make a smooth transition to a postcarbon economy and how to grasp the opportunities that such a transition offers. The Centre would offer sustainable, research-based solutions to local economic and employment needs.
• To support businesses - existing, new arrivals and start-ups - as they develop new goods and services to meet local needs in a postcarbon society.
• To inform and educate local people - individuals, groups and organisations - about the problems and opportunities of a postcarbon society, so that they can play an active role in creating one. The Centre's focus would be local needs, but its solutions to those needs will be applicable (suitably adapted) elsewhere.

STRUCTURE
The Centre should be established as an independent organisation, run by a Board representing diverse local interests and expertise, including (but not limited to):
• City of Greater Geelong
• Deakin University
• The Gordon Institute
• Marcus Oldham College
• Affiliation of Bellarine Community Associations
• Local business and farming groups
• Local trade unions.

The Centre should be located on the Bellarine Peninsula, not in Geelong. This sends a clear signal that its focus is the needs of the Bellarine's businesses and communities.

FUNDING
The Centre's initial funding base should be as broad as possible, to survive particular funders' changing priorities. Here is an indicative list of potential funders:
• Commonwealth Government
• Council of Australian Governments
• State Government of Victoria
• City of Greater Geelong
• Surf Coast Shire
• Borough of Queenscliff
• Deakin, Gordon and Marcus Oldham (including ‘in kind’ contributions).
• Philanthropic organisations
• Business and industry peak bodies
• Individual companies.

The Centre should be established with a sound business plan to make it self-funding in a specified time and with clear, measurable benchmarks of progress towards that goal.

THE FIRST STEP
The first step in creating a Postcarbon Research and Resource Centre would be to convene a meeting of potential stakeholders and funders to invite their participation in establishing the Centre. This meeting would have a two-part agenda:
• a presentation of the argument that such a Centre is needed and an outline of how it would meet local needs
• a 'brainstorming' session in which participants would divide the work necessary to take the Centre's establishment to the next stage.

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Notes
1. Stern, N. (2009) A Blueprint For A Safer Planet. London: The Bodley Head.
(p. 14)

2. Here are just two examples of government-led action to promote renewable
energy on a national scale, with international consequences:
Denmark and wind power. In the 1980s, the Danish government gave significant economic support to research and development into wind power. Today, Denmark manufactures over half the world's wind turbines; and 20 per cent of Denmark's electricity comes from wind power, which the government aims to increase to 40 per cent in the next decade.
Germany and solar power. The German government has invested heavily in research and development of solar power systems and requires electricity companies to buy solar-based electricity at attractive rates. Today, Germany produces over half the world's solar panels; and Germany is the world's largest market for solar electricity. The long-term aim is for 25 per cent of Germany's electricity to come from solar alone.
(McNeil, B. (2009) The Clean Industrial revolution: growing Australian
prosperity in a greenhouse age. Crows Nest, NSW: Allen & Unwin. [pp. 96-98, 98-100].)

3. Fankheiser, S., Sehlleier, F. & Stern, N. (2008) 'Climate change, innovation
and jobs.' Climate Policy. 8. (421 - 429)

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Shaffer, M. A. & Barrows, A. (2008) The Guernsey Literary & Potato Pel Pie Society

Shaffer, M. A. & Barrows, A. (2008) The Guernsey Literary & Potato Pel Pie Society. Crows Nest, NSW: Allen & Unwin. (Published originally [2008] by The Dial Press and Bloomsbury Publishing.)

Summary

In 1946, Juliet Ashton is a successful author who can't think what to write about next. She receives a letter from Dawsey Adams of Guernsey, who has bought a book that Juliet once owned and in which she wrote her name and address. They correspond about books and writing, during which Adams reveals that he is a member of The Guernsey Literary & Potato Pel Pie Society. At Adams's suggestion, other members of the Society write to her. They tell her about how the Society started during the Nazi occupation of Guernsey, how it helped them to survive the occupation and its continuing role in their lives. Ashton visits Guernsey to meet the members of the Society. The visit changes her life irrevocably. (Many Ann Shaffer died before the book was finished, so her niece Annie Barrows completed it.)

My comments
The book takes the form of a series of letters between Ashton, her publisher Sydney, her friend Sophie (Sydney's brother) and, of course, the members of The Guernsey Literary & Potato Pel Pie Society. The first letters are between Ashton, Sydney and Sophie and they made me regret buying the book!

Ashton is one of those silly, affected women who were the subject of light romantic comedies in post-war British cinema. Somehow they lived well with no discernable income and not a care in the world, peppering their speech with 'ghastly', 'gorgeous', 'darling' and 'simply heaven'. (We learn towards the end of the book that Ashton has a considerable income from her 'witty' columns in the war-time Spectator, which have recently been assembled into a - wouldn't you know it - best-selling anthology.) In their letters to Ashton, Sophie and Sydney seem much the same sort of people, although Sidney thinks that being A Publisher gives him a gravitas that ordinary people lack! I dreaded reading a whole book populated with these prattling people!

However, once the letters start to arrive from Guernsey, it is clear that Ashton, Sophie and Sidney are each 'merely' finely-drawn portraits. Shaffer has an eye for personality and an ear for language. While I sometimes forgot who was who, I enjoyed watching each character develop in their letters and then - in Ashton's later letters - reading about their relationships with each other and with the Society.

At times, the book is dreadfully heart warming, with a cute child, a drowned kitten and tales of simple, homespun folk making the best of things. At other times, the characters' harrowing tales of the occupation made me wonder whether Shaffer was counterposing different styles of writing as she counterposes different personalities and characters. The book was also funny at times. My favourite piece is:
'The Beginner's Cook Book for Girl Guides … assumes you know nothing about cookery and gives useful hints: "When adding eggs, break the shells first."' (p. 183)


1. Mary Ann Shaffer appears to have no Wikipedia entry. Read her profile on the Book Browse site:
www.bookbrowse.com/biographies/index/author
Annie Barrows - published in her own right - has no Wikipedia entry either, but she has her own website:
www.anniebarrows.com
The Guernsey Literary & Potato Pel Pie Society has its own website:
www.randomhouse.com/rhpg/guernsey

2. Annie Barrows was interviewed about the book by Bethanne Patrick for The Book Studio: www.thebookstudio.com/authors/annie-barrows

3. The Guernsey Literary & Potato Pel Pie Society was Mary Ann Shaffer's first and last book. Annie Barrows has also written the Ivy and Bean series of children's books (published by Chronicle Books).

4. Shaffer's & Barrows's publishers
Allen & Unwin. An independent Australian publisher, established in 1990 through a buy-out of the Australian assets of UK publisher George Allen & Unwin Ltd. Agents for several other publishers, including Bloomsbury Publishing.
The Dial Press. Part of the Bantam Dell Publishing Group - itself part of Random House Inc. - itself part of Bertelsmann.
Bloomsbury Publishing. An independent UK publisher. It also published Khaled Hosseini's Thousand Splendid Suns and Kite Runner; and the Harry Potter books.

Another community consultation, in Drysdale on 19 November 2009


City of Greater Gelong (CoGG) consultants (David Lock Associates) have produced a further Draft Drysdale Community Infrastructure Report* and the council has invited local people to discuss it at a public consultation meeting on 19 November, 6.00 - 8.00 p.m. at Drysdale Primary School, Clifton Springs Road, Drysdale.

The latest Draft Report is accompanied by a summary list of the points made so far in public consultations, but, by itself, 'consultation' isn't enough. People who are consulted must see their views being acted upon or receive a clear explanation as to why not. Otherwise, consultation is just Public Relations by another name.

At present, it isn't always clear whether and how CoGG councillors and officers are hearing and acting on citizens' voices. Drysdale & Clifton Springs Community Association (DCSCA) has opened discussions with local councillors about how to improve CoGG's consultation processes. we have proposed two changes to current CoGG, neither of which will cost money and both of which will increase the effectiveness of the council's public consultation. The proposals are:

1. The City of Greater Geelong should develop a set of protocols concerning its communication and consultation with communities and other stakeholders; and should list specific communication and consultation targets that should be met before any proposal or report is brought before a Council meeting.

2. Each proposal or report presented to a Council meeting should include a section - ‘Communication & Consultation’ - in which the authors show that they have:
(i) communicated with and consulted relevant communities and other stakeholders in accordance with the Council’s communication and consultation protocols
(ii) met the specific targets associated with those protocols.

Such protocols and targets will enable councillors to see whether and to what extent their officers have communicated and consulted with stakeholders in the manner that the Council has decided they should; and they will enable stakeholders to see whether and to what extent their views have been taken into account in a Council project, proposal or report.

At present, some reports and proposals to Council list and/or summarise the results of consultations, but this isn’t a consistent practice. Implementing our two proposals will give continuity and consistency to the Council’s relationships with its stakeholders.

DCSCA's proposals require no new spending and this alone should commend them to councillors! Indeed, we believe that making the Council’s communication and consultation consistent with published protocols and targets will streamline officers’ work, instill new stakeholder confidence in the process and provide tangible evidence that the City of Greater Geelong listens to its constituents and wants to promote local democracy. The outcome will be communication and consultation that is be easier and quicker (and potentially less expensive) to perform.

* For a copy of the Draft Report, contact Ms Carmel Boyce, a Social Planner with CoGG (Tel. 5272 4702; email cboyce@geelongcity.vic.giv.au).

A climate of opportunity?


Businesses in the Geelong and Bellarine area have been discussing some of the economic opportunities offered by climate change. Representatives of several local businesses - including Ford, Shell and Incitec Pivot - were among approximately fifty participants in a forum at Thirteenth Beach Golf Club on November 9.

The forum was run by Victoria's Environment Protection Agency and Barwon Water and speakers from each agency described how it is responding to climate change by reducing its energy costs and its carbon emissions and by offering businesses technical advice and financial assistance to do the same.

The forum included small group discussion of climate-related threats and opportunities facing businesses, led by Mr. Paul Tebo, a former senior executive with multinational chemicals company Dupont.

Mr. Patrick Hughes, Secretary of the Drysdale & Clifton Springs Community Association, attended the event. 'The forum was a good idea', he said, 'But the business participants wanted visionary policy and practical ways to reduce their energy costs and carbon emissions, not a chance to chat. Climate-related opportunities continue to grow', he said, 'but they must be made more attractive to businesses through clearer policies, targets, resources and incentives.'

Thursday, October 15, 2009

'Best Green Companies'


For two years, The Times newspaper (UK) has run a contest to find the best green companies and this year's results have just been published. Rather than summarise them, here is a link to the site:
http://business.timesonline.co.uk/tol/business/related_reports/best_green_companies/tables/

The rankings were derived from two surveys. First, a management survey, which accounted for 70% of the final ranking. It covered environmental management policies, environmental training and internal consultation, energy consumption, waste production and recycling. It also considered efforts to promote environmental initiatives within business supply chains. Second, an employee survey, which accounted for 30% of the ranking. It asked staff to respond to 52 statements about their employer, each in one of four broad areas: policies and systems, training and motivation, reporting and communications and environmental performance.

To give a flavour of the contest, here are extracts from a couple of companies - Sanska and Tesco - from very different industries.
1. Skanska UK. Top-rated construction company. Overall rating: 4/60.
'As a leading global construction company, almost everything Skanska does affects the environment. In the UK the firm works on large projects such as the Channel tunnel rail link and widening of the M1, as well as thousands of smaller ones. It also digs hundreds of holes each day to replace and renew the gas, water, electricity and telephone lines up and down the country. The company does everything it can to minimise its environmental impact, earning it a positive green score of 81% in our staff survey. To ensure its policies are known and understood from the outset all staff get environmental training when they join and they say it is not only adequate (77%) but also makes them think differently about what they do at home (78%). ... A waste assessment is carried out on all projects with a subsequent management plan sent to employees and subcontractors. Waste is segregated on sites and excavated materials are used to make underground floor slabs or used in permanent landscaping.'

2. Tesco. Top-rated supermarket chain. Overall rating: 15/60.
Tesco is the most environmentally friendly supermarket in the country. The firm, which wins our award for being the best big company for corporate environmental strategy, has invested £115m in energy-saving technology for its stores in the past two years and is working hard to create the zero carbon supermarket of the future. ... The firm's flagship low-carbon supermarket in Cheetham Hill, Manchester, has exceeded its proposed CO2 reduction targets of 50% by a further 20 percentage points. "The Cheetham store is part of the evolution of technologies and ideas that we want to move on to future stores," says programme manager Jake Ronay. "We want to raise the bar, but I think a 70% reduction since 2006 is a fantastic achievement." A closer analysis shows that a 31% reduction has been achieved through energy efficiency, 20% by using natural refrigeration and another 20% through renewable energy. Onsite wind turbines power the sign at the front of the building and a combined cooling, heating and power plant provides 25% of the store's electrical needs, as well as 50% of its refrigeration. The plant is run on vegetable oil, reducing carbon emissions by 78%. The supermarket also harvests rainwater from the roof, which supplies the store with 50% of its toilet flushing requirements. Built with wood from sustainable forests, a glass front and roof lights allow the building to make maximum use of natural light. Store lights automatically dim or switch off depending on the availability of sunlight, ensuring an 8% energy saving.'