Adopting reduced emissions approach to meet local authority needs

Local highway authorities can undertake detailed, video road condition surveys safe in the knowledge that the carbon emissions are now being offset.

This meets the current needs of all councils’ current aim to reduce emissions used across their assets and the services they deliver. Local authorities are increasingly involved in defining and implementing policies to combat climate change. This, however, is often not straightforward as emissions generated by their administrative services, for example, and other greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in their territorial jurisdiction are often beyond their direct control.

Now Gaist can offer its clients zero emissions video condition surveys by offsetting carbon emissions through paying just 5p per km with an equal contribution from Gaist. This will be paid annually into carbon offsetting projects to balance out, if not exceed, the carbon footprint of the company’s operations throughout the previous 12-month period.

The 5p contribution is towards carbon offsetting schemes delivered by carbonfootprint.com, an organisation that carry out projects around the world to reduce the human impact on emissions. “Although we would never force clients to use this approach, we are keen to encourage all our customers towards these type of surveys. This allows local authorities to reduce their CO2 footprint and meet government targets and assist our commercial companies meet their targets,” said Steve Birdsall, Chief Executive, Gaist.

As an SME, Gaist is committed to operating in a way that minimises its impact on the environment. As a result, the company is considering in detail the impact of its activities could have on the environment and this regularly on the agenda at board level.

“As a company we take it very seriously that along with our local authority partners we need to introduce practical and stretching environmental impact reduction policies. At the highest level in the company we review policies quarterly with a cross section of staff, over and above our legal responsibilities and formal Environment Policy,” added Mr Birdsall.

Reacting to the move by Giast, Michael Hansford, Highway Asset Manager at Dorset County Council said: “Any thing that offsets carbon in this way is a good approach and it is pleasing to hear that Gaist have taken the steps to do so for the services it offers. We are looking to implement a range of measures. For example, we are currently in discussion with our surfacing suppliers about progressing our carbon reduction programme with them.”

Carbon offsetting has become an even bigger priority over the last few years, with many authorities declaring Climate Emergencies such as Dorset. The council says: “There is clear scientific evidence to show that climate change is happening and is due to human activity. This includes global warming and greater risk of flooding, droughts and heat waves. These changes to the climate represent a real and serious threat to us all. As the local authority, Dorset Council has a responsibility to play its part in helping tackle this growing danger while we still have time to make a difference. We are taking direct action to reduce the negative environmental impact of our services using our services to support and influence Dorset communities and organisations to reduce their carbon footprint working with partners to develop our climate emergency plan.”

Gaist’s environmental policy covers all buildings, goods and services used and provided by the Company and everyone working for us. It concerns the immediate impacts of its activities and policies, excluding anything that it cannot control or influence.

In terms of its vehicles, Gaist’s drivers are encouraged to adopt Ecosafe driving practices in line with The Driver and Vehicle Standard’s Agency guidance. The company uses vehicle tracking and financial tools to ensure our fuel usage is tracked and drivers use Ecosafe driving, following the Safe Driving For Life guidance. All vehicles have recently been thoroughly reviewed for their impact on the environment. As a result of this fundamental review all the company’s vehicles are now part of a replacement programme to low an environmental impact vehicle, with electric vehicles becoming part of the fleet as soon as practically possible. Gaist expects all of its fleet to be replaced within 18 months to low environmental impact vehicles.

The company also aims to meet and where possible exceed, all relevant, current and foreseen statutory regulations including the Environmental Information Regulations, codes of practice and other requirements that we adopt. “We communicate openly with staff and others, educating, training and motivating our colleagues, and other relevant persons and organisations to encourage them to support our environmental objectives. When using goods and services we seek to use those that are environmentally preferable,” says Mr Birdsall.

Recently, the company reviewed all of its equipment purchases both for our engineering teams and other parts of the business. The company uses local suppliers to help support local economies and reduce trip chaining of environmental damaging delivery.

As well as this, all Gaist staff are based in regionally appropriate officers ensuring, where practicable, either through our own actions or by negotiation with any landlord, that buildings occupied by us are designed, constructed and operated to optimise their environmental performance. Staff are encouraged to use of Skype or Microsoft Teams for meetings with staff or customers, where possible.

“As a  company we will be measuring and reporting our carbon footprint to our board and will be sharing this more widely with customers showing how we’ve taken into account the carbon management of our business decisions to reduce our contribution to climate change,” concludes Mr Birdsall.

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