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Waverley Borough Council Committee System - Committee Document

Meeting of the Executive held on 06/01/2004
An Environmental Management System for Waverley Borough Council



Summary & Purpose
As part of Waverley’s Local Agenda 21 Strategy (2001), Waverley agreed to undertake a number of initiatives to improve its own environmental performance. Most of the relevant actions outlined in the Strategy are now under way or completed. However, a formal Environmental Management System (EMS) for the Council does not currently exist to allow us to effectively gauge the current situation as regards our environmental impacts nor to measure and accurately report the success or otherwise of the actions taken to make improvements.

Numerous successful projects have already been carried out at the Council Offices to help to minimise our negative environmental impacts yet, due to a lack of a formal Environmental Management System with its associated reporting structure, many of these successes have gone relatively unnoticed and certainly unreported. Waverley is also currently trying to persuade the public and business community to become more environmentally conscious, such as through recycling and energy efficiency, without any demonstrable proof that we are making such efforts ourselves.

As part of the Comprehensive Performance Assessment regime, the Government now see the existence of a formal Environmental Management System as an important part of a successful local authority.

Quality of Life Implications
Natural Resource Use
Pollution Prevention and Control
Biodiversity and Nature
Local Environment
Social Inclusion
Safe Communities
Local Economy
Natural
Resource Use
Pollution
Prevention and Control
Biodiversity
and Nature
Local
Environment
Social
Inclusion
Safe, Healthy
and Active
Communities
Local
Economy
Positive
Positive
Positive
Positive
N/A
N/A
Positive


APPENDIX H
WAVERLEY BOROUGH COUNCIL

EXECUTIVE – 6TH JANUARY 2004

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Title:
AN ENVIRONMENTAL MANAGEMENT SYSTEM FOR WAVERLEY BOROUGH COUNCIL

[Wards Affected: N/A]
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Summary and purpose:

As part of Waverley’s Local Agenda 21 Strategy (2001), Waverley agreed to undertake a number of initiatives to improve its own environmental performance. Most of the relevant actions outlined in the Strategy are now under way or completed. However, a formal Environmental Management System (EMS) for the Council does not currently exist to allow us to effectively gauge the current situation as regards our environmental impacts nor to measure and accurately report the success or otherwise of the actions taken to make improvements.

Numerous successful projects have already been carried out at the Council Offices to help to minimise our negative environmental impacts yet, due to a lack of a formal Environmental Management System with its associated reporting structure, many of these successes have gone relatively unnoticed and certainly unreported. Waverley is also currently trying to persuade the public and business community to become more environmentally conscious, such as through recycling and energy efficiency, without any demonstrable proof that we are making such efforts ourselves.

As part of the Comprehensive Performance Assessment regime, the Government now see the existence of a formal Environmental Management System as an important part of a successful local authority.

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Quality of life implications – social, environmental & economic (sustainable development):

The introduction of a formal Environmental Management System (EMS) for Waverley is likely to have beneficial environmental impacts as it will involve a thorough review of Waverley’s environmental impacts and suggest actions to be taken to minimise those of a negative nature.

E-Government implications:

This report is fully compliant with Waverley’s Implementing Electronic Government vision, in particular by ensuring that support services have immediate access to information on Waverley’s own environmental impacts through the use of information technology.

Resource and legal implications:

In terms of staffing, the introduction of a formal EMS for Waverley would have little impact over current levels of staff input. Waverley’s Sustainability Co-ordinator already monitors and reports on Waverley’s impacts as part of the LA21 review. It will be necessary for other relevant officers to give their time to the development of the environmental management system in terms of giving information and co-operating with implementation, although this should be little more than the time they currently give to the LA21 Strategy reporting process; the information officers give will be used to formulate both the environmental management system and the LA21 review.

There are no financial resource implications directly associated with this report, although it is expected that there will be considerable opportunities to improve the efficiency of the ways in which relevant resources are used. These will become evident, as will opportunities to improve environmental performance, when a systematic method of managing them is introduced. It will sometimes be necessary to suggest changes for which formal approval would be sought; these could have associated costs, be cost neutral or provide financial savings. Any financial impacts of the environmental management system would be reported bi-annually or annually as appropriate as part of the reporting structure of the EMS. There may also be opportunities to seek external accreditation at some future stage, which would have associated auditing costs, although this would be subject to a separate decision if and when the opportunity arises.

There are no legal implications arising from this report. However, if the next phase of EMS development occurs, part of that entails proving that Waverley is fully compliant with relevant environmental legislation.

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Introduction and background – the current situation

1. An Environmental Management System (EMS) is a formalised and coordinated approach to the management of the environmental impacts of an organisation’s operations. It therefore looks at environmental impacts caused by the running of services, rather than the effectiveness of the services themselves (which is already being assessed under existing monitoring and review arrangements).

2. As part of Waverley’s Local Agenda 21 Strategy (2001), Waverley agreed to undertake a number of initiatives to improve our environmental performance as an organisation. These included reviewing Waverley’s activities to assess their environmental impacts and setting targets to reduce identified adverse impacts; reviewing Waverley’s use of natural resources, including paper, water and energy; consider the use of renewable energy sources for the main Council Office building; promoting waste minimisation and recycling internally and adopting a Company Transport Plan. The majority of these are underway or completed. Many other actions have also been carried out over the years to improve Waverley’s environmental performance (see Annexe 1 attached). However, due to the lack of a formal EMS with its associated reporting structure, many of these successes have gone unnoticed.

3. The lack of a formal system with its associated improvement targets also means that there has been less impetus to measure accurately our environmental impacts, such as how much paper we use, how much energy we use, how environmentally friendly our purchases are, how much we throw in the skip and how much we recycle. This therefore makes it difficult for areas for improvement to be identified and success or otherwise to be accurately measured. As part of the CPA regime, the Government now see the existence of a formal environmental management system as an important part of a successful local authority. As part of the Public Space Diagnostic Assessment, Councils are asked ‘Does the council have an accredited environmental management system (or is working towards one)?’ It states that ‘a council that is clear about what it is trying to do’ is one where ‘ISO 14001 or European Eco-Management and Audit Scheme (EMAS) accreditation [has been] achieved, or assessment is to take place in the next year’; ‘a council that is unclear about what it is trying to do’ is one where ‘no work on environmental management systems is undertaken’. At present, Waverley is unable to provide a satisfactory answer to this CPA question. Approving the proposals contained in this report will satisfy the requirement of the Diagnostic Assessment.

4. Waverley is also unable to provide the public or business community with demonstrable proof that efforts are being made to address our own environmental impacts. This is despite the fact that we are continually asking them to become more environmentally conscious, whether through recycling, energy efficiency or some other environmental programme.
A way forward

5. As a result of the issues highlighted above, it is suggested that Waverley adopts a formal EMS to enable the accurate gauging of our current environmental impacts, the identification of areas where improvements can be made, the setting of targets for improvement and the reporting of our achievements to Officers, Members and the public.

6. The British Standards Institute’s BS 8555 regime appears to provide a manageable way forward. It was designed to allow small and medium sized businesses to formulate an EMS as the traditional direct ISO 14001 and EMAS routes have often proved too cumbersome. The main stages of BS 8555 are:



7. It is only proposed that Phase 1 of the BS 8555 system is undertaken at present, with the results to be reported to Chief Officer Group and Members. World Wild Life Fund-UK, whose headquarters are in Godalming, are shortly going to be amending their current Environmental Management System to be in line with the whole of the BS 8555 scheme and have offered to assist Waverley with the process at no cost. The details of the first phase of the BS 8555 environmental management system are set out in Annexe 2 to this report. The overall aim would be to enable us to produce an environmental management report to be circulated to Officers, Members, the public and business community to publicise the efforts Waverley is making to improve our overall environmental impact.

Conclusion

8. The adoption of a formal EMS for Waverley will have several benefits. It will allow us to demonstrate our many successes, including those that Waverley gave a commitment to undertake in the LA21 Strategy. It will allow the current situation as regards environmental impacts to be measured and areas where further improvements can be made to be identified. It will also permit the more accurate measurement of success and allow for more meaningful reports of progress to be produced. It will also enable Waverley’s commitment to environmental improvement to be demonstrated to Officers, Members, the public, the local business community and the Government. It will be possible to prove that we practice what we preach and lead by example.

Recommendation

It is recommended that:

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Background Papers (DoE&L)

There are no background papers (as defined by Section 100D(5) of the Local Government Act 1972) relating to this report.

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CONTACT OFFICER:

Name: Susan Gilfrin Telephone: 01483 523448

E-mail: sgilfrin@waverley.gov.uk comms/exec/03-04/402