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First Plants 1,500 New Trees to Help Offset Carbon Emissions Caused by Staff Business Travel
Friday 30 January 2004
First, the UKs largest surface transport company, is planting over 1,500 new trees each year for the next five years in order to offset the carbon emissions generated by the business travel of all First staff by rail and air.
First is the first major public transport operator to do this. The trees are being planted at Standen Hey, near to Clitheroe, in Lancashire and at Talnamounth in Aberdeenshire as part of Firsts environmental programme which includes investment in fleet, a programme of internal environmental audits, and standardising environmental procedures.
The tree planting is being carried out in partnership with Future Forests, an organisation that is helping companies and individuals to take positive action on climate change.
Chief Executive of First, Moir Lockhead, said: "As the UKs largest operator of public transport we recognise the role that we can play in helping improve our environment by encouraging more use of public transport. First carries around 3 million passengers every day in the UK on its buses and trains, many of whom would otherwise go by car. Every one of these 3 million people is producing lower emissions than they would if they used a car. Better public transport gives car users an alternative. Fewer cars means less congestion in our towns and cities and is a positive move towards helping to improve the environment for all of us. Our investment in new buses and trains also helps to improve the quality of the air we breathe. But we also recognise the environmental impact of our day to day business activities. In addition to our existing environmental programme we have decided to offset all the CO2 emissions generated by the business travel of all of our staff by rail and air and make this travel ‘CarbonNeutral™.'
For the past 12 months, the rail and air travel by Firsts staff has resulted in the emission of 448.98 tonnes or carbon dioxide. Through Future Forests and their planting partner, Lancashire Rural Futures, over 1,500 trees will be planted and professionally managed to absorb these emissions over time. All planting will be indigenous to the local environment, and will include oak and birch.
Glyn Akesson, Environment and Property Projects Director for First, said: "This new major environmental initiative ensures that First is not only balancing its emissions but is also establishing new natural woodlands and thus contributing to the reforestation of the UK.'
Firsts environmental programme has brought two recent awards to the company. In November 2003 First won a Green Apple Award, one of the UKs leading environmental awards, for work in reducing the environmental impact of transport.
First also beat off intense competition from other organisations in the transport sector to win the Environment Award at the 8th Annual Bus Industry Awards held in London in November. The BIA award recognised the contribution made by First to further improving the environmental friendliness of the bus, to improving the environment in which buses operate and to improving the environment for bus users and potential users. The judges particularly liked the involvement of staff at all levels through the institution of an annual Environmental Awards scheme within the company.
Further information from Glyn Akesson at First on 0113 381 5042 or Stuart Render on 07760 172773.
Notes to editors:
Firsts Environment Programme
First is committed to working in partnership to provide a safer, cleaner environment for our passengers, staff and the communities we serve. We are striving to improve the companys environmental performance through investment in fleet, a programme of internal environmental audits, and standardising environmental procedures. We are committed to this continued improvement.
Key environmental improvements:
· We are trialling three fuel Hydrocell powered buses in London on behalf of Transport for London, the only such trial in the UK. These emission-free buses are virtually silent and have the potential to make a significant difference to overall air quality.
· We have invested £2 million in partial water recycling bus washes bringing our water consumption down by 14%.
· We have achieved a 7% reduction in energy usage as a result of the companys Energy Conservation Initiative and financial incentives and rewards for the best performing depots.
· All 9,500 buses run on ultra low sulphur diesel.
· We are continuing to invest in new vehicles and increasing the number of Euro III engines that further reduce engine exhaust emissions.
· We are working in partnership with our waste contractor. 98% of hazardous waste and 16% of non-hazardous waste is recycled.
· Our bus operating company in London and our First Great Western train operating company have had their management system certified in line with the ISO 14001 environmental management system standard.
· We have successfully introduced seven pilot American-style yellow school bus schemes across the UK. This has helped to reduce the number of cars on the school run by giving parents the reassurance to put their children on the bus.
What is CarbonNeutral™
CarbonNeutral™ is the point at which CO2 emissions have been balanced or ‘offset through investment into one of Future Forests high-sustainability offset projects. These projects include tree planting (trees absorb CO2 as they grow, turning it into something useful " oxygen and wood), and investments into small-scale renewable technology projects (which reduce the output of CO2 in the first place).
About Future Forests
Future Forests is a world leader in helping companies to combat climate change, and make a positive impact on the environment. Clients range from Avis Europe to Barclays and the United Nations. The company is externally verified by KPMG, to ensure the transparency of all processes, and partners with the Edinburgh Centre for Carbon Management (authors of government reports on climate change) to source and manage forestry projects throughout the world. The Future Forests website is at www.futureforests.com.