As COP26 comes to a close, Suffolk celebrates the people and organisations making the biggest environmental difference in the county. An innovative food recycling company, a nature reserve and the county’s Tree Warden Network are among those collecting awards at The Hold in Ipswich today (Friday 12 November 2021).

Councillor Richard Rout, Suffolk County Council’s Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Finance and Environment, said:

“Once again, our Greenest County Award winners demonstrate that Suffolk has some of the most innovative, passionate and forward thinking people and organisations in the UK. We hope these stories inspire everyone to think hard about how they can help, as they not only address the climate emergency here in Suffolk, but set a standard for all organisations and industry, leading the way to a greener country and more sustainable world.”

Full details of the winners are below:

Enhancing Biodiversity and Landscape Award

Winner: Suffolk Wildlife Trust Carlton Marshes 

Carlton Marshes, close to Lowestoft in the north east of the county, was once a damaged, former arable landscape in the Broads National Park, but Suffolk Wildlife Trust has transformed this 1,000 acre site into a Broadland reserve, safeguarding three European designated wetlands and bolstering populations of nationally rare species.

What the judges said: “Exemplary in every way. This project has considered both the environmental and human needs thereby ensuring it will be valued and enjoyed for years to come.”

Greenest Community Award

Winner: The Suffolk Tree Warden Network

The Suffolk Tree Warden Network is composed of volunteer Tree Champions who work with local councils and other community groups to plant, promote and care for trees across the county. As well as planting and protecting trees, they empower others to do the same, and act as a point of focus. Each planting season, in partnership with Suffolk County Council (SCC) and The Woodland Trust (WT), they distribute trees and hedge plants, get them safely in the ground and ensure they are looked after in the future.

What the judges said: “This wide-ranging project had the advantage of having a positive effect across many communities throughout the whole of Suffolk. It has a lot of support, with many more parishes across Suffolk now having a Tree Warden. Its range of influence and high ambitions to change the landscape of the county by involving local communities gave it the edge in an extremely high quality field of nominations.”

Greenest School Award sponsored by Suffolk Group Holdings Ltd.

Winner: Alde Valley Academy

Alde Valley Academy is one of the top ten high achieving secondary schools in Suffolk. The mixed academy in Leiston has around 550 students and was rated Good by Ofsted at the last inspection. It’s vision is to become an Outstanding school and enable students to realise their full potential and prepare them to become responsible, successful citizens. By ramping up their student and staff awareness and engagement with environmental issues, they are reducing their environmental impact across the school and in their community.

What the judges said:“Great involvement from everyone with ambition for the future to drive to net zero carbon. They’ve used a clear goal to focus efforts and engage the whole school.”

Greenest Business Award sponsored by Bouygues Energies and Services

Winner: Precision

For over 25 years Precision has offered a blend of digital and direct marketing methods to connect its customers to the people that matter most to their businesses. By integrating technology and using data-driven marketing, direct mail, specialist ecommerce fulfilment and enterprise learning to build full knowledge for brands through all of their sales channels, they have been creating solutions for over 25 years from their carbon neutral base in Bury St Edmunds.

What the judges said: “Precision is leading the way towards net zero in the print and direct marketing sector. Onsite renewables powering the factory, charging the EV fleet, and even employees’ own cars. They demonstrated a huge range of activity from waste reduction to water use, vegetable-based inks and promoting carbon neutral products to help customers achieve their own sustainability goals.”

Greenest Small Business Award

Winner: Skyview Systems

Skyview Systems is a small, family-run company based in Sudbury which specialises in delivering weather monitoring solutions to organisations and individuals globally. They are committed to minimising their environmental impact, while creating quality products and delivering excellent customer service, whether they’re carrying out installation or calibration services for commercial clients, or supplying home weather stations for ecommerce customers. Previous clients include the Environment Agency, the London Eye and the National Police Air Service.

What the judges said:“Skyview Systems’ short and long term goals were well thought through and ambitious. Their past and future efforts to reduce carbon emissions are impressive, in terms of how their business operates, their business product and their commitment to involving staff both professionally and personally. All alongside ambitions next year for also embracing wildlife and biodiversity, by developing a wild garden on their property.”

Waste Reduction and Recycling Award

Winner: Still Good Food

Still Good Food is an organisation which sources surplus stock and food past its best before date and then sells it for a minimum donation at their two shops in West Suffolk. By working closely with other charities, local businesses and farmers, their network of incredibly motivated and committed volunteers keeps food out of the bin and on people’s plates!

What the judges said:“Great initiative which supports reducing waste and engages with providing resources for those impacted by food poverty.”

Green Hero Award Supported by BBC Radio Suffolk 

Winner: Debbie Bartlett (achieving over 1,000 public votes)

Debbie founded Litter-Free Felixstowe, a volunteer-based community interest group, in 2018 after being motivated by the Blue Planet series. The group’s aims are to educate and raise awareness about the impact of litter on the environment, and explore the causes of littering. LFF organises group events and litter picks in the community. Debbie’s drive, imagination, skills, determination and passion have grown the group to over 1,100 members, and has motivated schools, colleges and businesses (both local and international) to get involved. Fittingly, her work has even received support and encouragement from her original inspiration, Sir David Attenborough.

What the judges said:“Debbie is a remarkable lady, inspiring so many people and making such a difference to our community. The work she does within schools to educate children is key to tackling the environmental issues we face and I could not think of a more deserving person to win this award.”

Derek Moore Award

Awarded by Suffolk County Council In recognition of outstanding service to Suffolk’s environment.

Winner: Steve Piotrowski

Steve is a renowned naturalist and one of the most experienced birders in the region. He is an author, a trainer, a guide, a teacher, an advisor and the engine behind so much positive work to better understand, manage and enhance the biodiversity of Suffolk. He is perhaps best known for leading a conservation campaign to increase the population of barn owls in the county. In 2005, exasperated by the historically low numbers of barn owls, Steve identified that one way we could help owls was to put up special triangular nest boxes. His ambition was to put 90 boxes up in five years. Through Steve’s tenacity and ability to encourage others to support him the team ended up mounting 1,800 boxes and at least a third of those are now occupied. The barn owl population in Suffolk has since increased to 460, which is a ten-fold increase.

What the judges said:“The true value of Steve’s work and the way he approaches it is that he combines scientific rigor with the ability to inspire and engage others to care about our natural world and motivate them to take action. One of Suffolk’s great green heros.”

Attendees were also treated to a keynote speech from Emeritus Professor of Environmental Sciences at the University of East Anglia, Tim O’Riordan OBE, alongside a video address from Lord Deben who is at COP26. There are seven categories and one Derek Moore award for lifetime achievement. This year’s awards are sponsored by Boyogues, Barnes Construction, Vertas, Concertus and held in partnership with BBC Radio Suffolk.