New Efficiency North Environmental Action Strategy launches with river clear up

19th July 2022

Efficiency North launch new Environmental Action Strategy joining River Stewardship Company to clean up the River Don and surrounds near Jessop's Weir

The Efficiency North team got together at Carbrook office Collaboration Works on Friday 15th July for a morning of brainstorming ideas to feed into our new Sustainable Climate Action Strategy.  The strategy is a living document which we will bring alive with actions across all the work that we, our clients, and our supply chains deliver to achieve the biggest impact.  It will be continually reviewed and updated by a new Environmental Action Strategy Champions Group, made up of volunteers from across the organisation.

The strategy is based around our 7 corporate values, which correspond to 6 key areas everyone needs to address to protect our environment and tackle global warming, and our foundation value – We make it happen together.

In the afternoon, as per the new strategy, we put ideas into action and helped the River Stewardship Company clear up a short stretch of the River Don, beside our neighbours Forgemasters and Gripple.

Half the team climbed into waste high waders to paddle across to the island below Jessops weir, where they set to work pulling up copious Himalayan Balsam plants.  This plant is an invasive non-native species which competes with native plants for light, nutrients, pollinators and space, excludes other plants, and dies back in the winter, leaving riverbanks bare and open to erosion.

They also hauled out 2 bikes, 2 single mattresses, 3 tyres (one from a tractor), 2 traffic cones and a rusty lamp amongst other miscellaneous metals and rubbish.  Clearing the river of these objects helps to keep the drainage systems unblocked, so that when rainfall is heavy and the river level rises, water can flow away rather than flood the local area, as happened earlier this year, in 2019 and in 2007.

The other team did a litter pick along the same stretch of the Five Weirs Walk between Carbrook St and Weedon St.  They retrieved enough heaps of cigarette ends, cans, bottles, polystyrene takeaway trays, face masks, plastic bags, and old clothes to fill a mini skip.  EN:Able Futures North East Assistant Apprenticeship Manager, Sophie Richardson, got the catch of the day, fishing out a plastic duck.

Carl Bairstow, Head of Membership Development and Environmental lead commented; “The environmental challenges the built environment sector faces are enormous. Our role in facilitating more sustainable procurement outcomes and our activity as an organisation as whole has a huge role to play in informing, shaping and facilitating better outcomes for the communities we serve and the planet as a whole.”

Brendon Wittram, Managing Director of River Stewardship Company said; "It was great to get involved with Efficiency North and its fantastic to see them launch their Sustainable Climate Action Strategy.  Climate resilience and mitigation work is such an important part of business strategy as we face this climate emergency. The River Stewardship Company have a long history of working with businesses along the river corridor to help them improve the waterways for people, places and wildlife and so we were pleased to be able to support the Efficiency North team in this river clean up.  Flooding can have such a devastating impact on a business and, working in partnership with local businesses, we can undertake a sustainable, on-going river stewardship programme that provides a little and often approach to river management that helps to minimise the impact of high water events when they occur."

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