The innovative environmental work of businesses, social enterprises, community groups, schools and individuals was recognised at an awards ceremony at The Queens hotel in Leeds, where leading figures from politics, media and business spoke about the importance of the green agenda.
Caroline Flint, the Shadow Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change, told the audience that Yorkshire has the skills and the technology to make the move to a low-carbon economy. The South Yorkshire MP said: “A new industrial revolution beckons, one that will and can create growth and investment opportunities. We’ve got to embrace that without delay.”
She said Yorkshire must be “at the heart of this new revolution” and must be able to “seize the opportunities this era of transformation will bring and build a new economy that is cleaner, leaner and provides the energy we need”.
Journalist, author and TV presenter Lucy Siegle hosted the ceremony. The roving reporter, who covers green issues for BBC’s The One Show, and is a columnist on the Observer, said every sector needs to address sustainability urgently.
The coveted Environmental Business of the Year award went to St Stephen’s Shopping Centre in Hull which was praised for its holistic approach to tackling environmental issues. Meanwhile, the accolade for Green Champion was awarded to Dr Graham Cooley, chief executive of Sheffield-based hydrogen technology firm ITM Power, which is bringing the concept of turning wind and solar power into hydrogen power to the mass market.
CO2Sense, a not-for-profit Leeds-based company, which helps businesses and public sector organisations to cut their carbon emissions and their costs, was the main sponsor of the awards, which attracted around 90 entries.
Joanne Pollard, chief executive of CO2Sense, who sat on the judging panel, told the audience she and the other judges were “blown away” by the quality of the entries. She said engagement with the environmental movement has changed enormously over the past few years in the face of challenges including new legislation, rising energy bills and “a desperate drive for survival” among many businesses in “one of the roughest business environments we have ever known”.
Peter Charlton, Editorial Director of the Yorkshire Post, said the awards are “not just about big business and politics”, adding: “The awards also celebrate the individuals who quietly and selflessly devote their time and energy into making a difference by helping safeguard our environment for the future. They are the unsung heroes.”
Ms Flint said: “It’s so great to be able to see that so many people in our region are at the cutting edge of new environmental technologies.”
Other sponsors of the awards included Grant Thornton, Banks Renewables, Northern Gas Networks, Yorkshire Water, Dickinson Dees and Asda.
• Environmental Business of the Year, sponsored by CO2Sense
St Stephen’s Shopping Centre
• Best Environmental Start-up
• Climate Change
• Built Environment: Projects over £1m, sponsored by Grant Thornton
GWP Architecture – for The Green
• Community Award, sponsored by Banks Renewables
Older, Wiser, Warmer
• Countryside Award, sponsored by Northern Gas Networks
Flowers From The Farm
• Innovation, sponsored by Yorkshire Water
• Manufacturer of the Best Green Product, sponsored by Dickinson Dees
Green Building Store
• Young People’s Award, sponsored by Asda
Stakesby Community Primary School
• Green Champion
Dr Graham Cooley