Category Archives: Environmental and Sustainability

Inspiring Bristol and saving wildlife together

Justin Morris is pictured, smiling, with leaves in the background.
Today’s guest blog is from
Justin Morris, Chief Executive
of Bristol Zoological Society.

In 2022, The World Wide Fund for Nature documented a 69% average loss in the abundance of mammal, bird, reptile, fish, and amphibian species since 1970. Figures like these are shocking, but there is hope. People around the world are willing to act.

In December last year at COP15, governments from around the world agreed a new set of goals to tackle nature loss – including a target to protect 30% of nature on Earth by 2030.

At Bristol Zoological Society we are determined to play our part. We know conservation zoos have an important role to play, to address this ecological crisis.

From their beginnings in the ancient world, where animals were used to show off wealth and power, to becoming brilliant days out for families, zoos have come a long way. However, they now have an even more vital role in wildlife conservation, education and research – connecting people to nature, engaging and inspiring the conservationists of the future, and working directly with communities around the world to save wildlife.

That’s why the Bristol Zoo Project, up at our new 136 acre site, will be much more than an exciting visitor destination.

A bear is photographed yawning, with a log in the background.

At the heart of the new zoo is a new species plan, deliberately designed to focus our work on the species that most need protecting. Initially, at least 80 percent of species will be linked to our conservation work and live in spaces that more closely reflect their natural habitats. We intend to increase this percentage further over time.

This means saying goodbye to some familiar animals. It’s a big step. But it also means more focus on species where we can have the biggest impact. Such as the blue-eyed black lemur, Polynesian tree snail, Mindanao bleeding heart dove, black rhinoceros, North African red necked ostrich, and Grevy’s zebra.

Our education and research programmes will grow significantly with a new conservation campus at the new Zoo; and our conservation work will increase in the South West and around the world. 

Two giraffe are pictured, with trees in the background.

Our long history at the forefront of the development of zoos means Bristol Zoological Society is better placed than most to define what zoos should look like in the 21st Century. We have constantly changed and evolved since Bristol Zoo Gardens opened to the public in 1836. Many species were successfully bred there over the years.

In the early 1960s Bristol Zoo was the first zoo in the UK to home Okapi and, in 1967, the first to successfully breed them through a coordinated programme with a small number of progressive zoos – this programme became the pre-cursor to what we today know as conservation breeding programmes.

We want to stay faithful to this history of innovation. With the people of Bristol, we want to save wildlife together.

Three Lynx are pictured lying on logs, with trees in the background.

Investing in Bristol’s Infrastructure: Underfall Yard Sluices

A sketched drawing illustrates Underfall Yard Sluices.

Since its construction back in 1809, our city’s historic Floating Harbour has had very little done to maintain it. For most of its life it was a working harbour and a key gateway to Bristol at the height of maritime trade and travel.

Since closing to commercial shipping in 1975, our Floating Harbour has seen a big growth in its role as a residential area, a tourism magnet, and a space for all manner of watersports and activities – all the while remaining a working harbour and home to a diverse ecologically rich community of wildlife.

Continuing the trend of previous administrations of dodging investment in our harbour is not an option. As much as any road, bridge, or cycle path, our floating harbour is a central part of the city’s infrastructure. As a home, a workplace, and a travel route, our harbour plays many roles and we’re taking the steps necessary to ensure its maintenance is prioritised.

We announced in December 2021 that we had bid for £1.25 million of funding to spend on works required to the Underfall Yard sluices. The sluices are an integral part of how our harbour manages itself. They have been providing Bristol with a means of regulating the water levels within our harbour since 1840.

Due to the tidal nature of the River Avon and the high levels of water which flow downstream from it and other main water courses (including the River Frome), these sluices provide our city with a critical flood defence measure.

Since then, we’ve been taking steps to identify further funding for these works and I was delighted, at the most recent cabinet meeting, to approve the receipt of a funding award of £1.75 million from the Environment Agency that fully funds the necessary works.

This additional funding means the sluices, where some of the infrastructure if over 100 years old, will get the refurbishment they need to continue to protect our city for many years to come.

When you add this to the funding of the Capricon Quay project to make 32 more berths for boats, investing in new pontoons and washroom facilities, plus upcoming efforts to progress work on the harbour walls, it’s clear this administration is taking the issue of our harbour’s health seriously.

Bristol’s grazing goats take on a new job

This week will see the arrival of a small herd of goats who are moving into their new home at Hengrove Mounds and there will be a chance to say “hello” at a Meet and Greet session this Saturday, 25 March.  

We are thrilled to welcome these furry, four legged grazers on site as part of a partnership project between urban goat farming collective Street Goat and Avon Wildlife Trust’s My Wild City.

My Wild City, working with Bristol City Council, focusses on eight Local Wildlife Sites across the city, including Hengrove Mounds and Hawkfield Meadow. These wildlife havens will see improvements for nature and visitors, and help reconnect communities with the nature on their doorsteps.

My wild city map poster. There is a map of Bristol with 8 locations highlighted. Text on the left reads: Hengrove Mounds and Hawkfield Meadow, Hengrove mounds is a hidden gem nearby the popular Hengrove playpark. Continue around the path and youll discover a wildlife haven that has developed over an old landfill site. The naked doughnut shape of the mounds provides a circular walk amongst wildflowers and scrub that provides a circular walk amongst wildflowers and earth that provides a habitat for many butterflies, bees and insects. Hawkfield Meadow is a valuable patch of rensant countryside home to rare bees and many butterflies. Location Hengrove Mounds - 

On the right of the image text reads: The Northern Slopes are made up as three great spaces near to Knowle and Bedminster in South Bristol. Welcome Vale and Glyn Bale are designated local nature reserves home to many species of birds, slow worms, badgers and hedgehogs. There are wildflower meadows and woods with streams to explore. and if you make it to the top, beautiful views over |Bristol to the suspension bridge.

Why are the goats at Hengrove Mounds?

Without grazing animals, grassland habitats like the Mounds become overgrown with brambles and trees. As the goats munch away, they are encouraging a greater biodiversity of wildflowers to grow through in the late spring. Goats are excellent at tackling brambles and scrubland. The way they browse, not eating right to the ground, leaves a mosaic of vegetation, providing perfect over winter protection for a range of insects and small mammals. They also live happily with foxes, badgers, and deer, and are quite light on their cloven hooves so don’t trample much underfoot.

Bristol City Council, with the help of Street Goat and the local community, maintain wildlife areas like Hengrove Mounds for the benefit of its wild (and human!) visitors through natural methods. 

Bristol's grazing goats are pictured as a group in Purdown, there is a tv tower and trees in thebackground.

We’ve seen the benefits of having grazing goats as part of our strategy for managing our green spaces for nature  with the goats currently at the Gun Battery in Stoke Park Estate. They’ve been successfully maintaining this area for the last 3 years each spring, increasing the numbers and diversity of flora and fauna found there.

In a recent survey by Street Goat Most residents commented on about how the goats brought the local community together, noting that they chatted to people they otherwise would not have. Children encouraged parents and carers out to see them, both learning about the care of animals and the landscape around them.

Ian Barrett, Chief Executive of Avon Wildlife Trust who worked with us to set up the Wild City Project says,  “Grazing animals, like Street Goat’s goats, are brilliant at maintaining scrub and grassland areas in a way which promotes biodiversity and allows wildflowers to thrive. This will support the incredible species which call Hengrove Mounds their home, such as the nationally scarce carrot mining bee.”

Looking after the goats

Our Hengrove Mounds goat herd will be cared for by Street Goat volunteer goat herders (they need more volunteers so if you are interested- apply here) who will be on site regularly to check on them. The goats have shelter and water provided for them. If you have any concerns about their welfare, there are telephone numbers on site you can call.

Saying hello to the goats

The goats are there to do an important job but we are keen for visitors to learn about how they help to improve our green spaces in an ecologically sound way and so you are welcome to walk through the fenced enclosure, just make sure any dogs are on short leads and shut gates behind you, just like for the goats along the Avon Gorge. Please don’t feed the goats as we want to make sure they are peckish enough to nibble on the brambles and saplings!

You can follow the progress of these and other Street Goats across Bristol on Street Goats Facebook page.

A Tree-mendous Year for Trees in Bristol

Councillor Ellie King, smiling in front of Bristol's City Hall.
Today’s guest blog is from Councillor Ellie King, Cabinet member for Public Health and Communities and Labour Councillor for Hillfields

The One Tree Per Child team have been busy planting thousands of trees across the city this winter, with the support of hundreds of volunteers from all walks of life. It’s been a brilliant effort. With just over a month to go before the planting season comes to an end, we look set to have hit our target by planting around 16,000 new trees in Bristol. 

This includes ten new woodlands, over a thousand street and parkland trees, one Tiny Forest, eight new orchards, and two new hedgerows. We have also gifted over 4,000 fruit trees to children and young people via our schools tree programme. 

One Tree Per Child started to give every child in Bristol the opportunity to plant a tree and see it grow. Our commitment is to plant at least 6,000 trees per year – one for every child starting school. We could not achieve any of this without our One Tree Per Child Volunteers – who come out in all weathers and give their time and passion to make a difference – knowing that the small trees we plant now will grow to be the woods of tomorrow filled with wildlife, orchards laden with fruit, grand trees, or parkland trees keeping us cool, cleaning the air, keeping us in touch with the seasons, and giving simple joy to many. 

Our target is to double Bristol’s tree canopy – adding over 660 hectares or 1,300 acres, equivalent to 840 full sized football pitches. This is a big challenge requiring a big effort whether you are a landowner, citizen, or business leader. We are working with key stakeholders to develop a Bristol Tree Strategy and Tree Planting Plan and want to hear from people across the city about what you think about trees. We have opened a questionnaire, with participants having a chance to win a fruit tree delivered straight to your door.

How you can get involved

Be a One Tree Per Child volunteer – and help out at one of our tree planting events here or at one of our tree care days which take place over the spring and summer.

Complete our Tree Questionnaire (please share with your friends and family – the more responses we get the better).

Sponsor a tree – you can chose one of our pre-agreed planting locations or you suggest your own. 

Plant a tree in your garden – anytime up to the end of March is the best time to plant a tree, with plenty of choice at our very own Blaise Plant Nursery to suit any garden. Other local garden centres are also available. Over 4,000 children will be planting a tree in their garden this winter from our schools tree programme.

I want to say a huge thank you to the Council’s Tree Planting team, whose passion and commitment for increasing our canopy year on year is clear to see. They go above and beyond to make the sessions fun, engaging, informative and easy to understand. As I am sure all the volunteers would agree, it is a very satisfying and joyful experience that gives us a real sense of pride over our neighbourhoods. Thank you!

Restoring the River Malago in a revitalised Bedminster

Today’s blog is by Cllr Nicola Beech, Cabinet Member for Strategic Planning, Resilience & Floods

We’ve taken an exciting next step in the regeneration of Bedminster Green and have submitted a planning application to restore a section of the River Malago that will allow us to bring back wildlife and reduce the risk of flooding in the area.

Restoring the river is one of the many benefits the regeneration of Bedminster Green will bring to the area, along with building much needed homes in our growing city, making it easier to travel and heat homes more sustainably, and helping to revive the local high street, East Street.   

The planning application also outlines proposals to restore heritage features, create a seating area on the green that will overlook the newly emerged river, and install an accessible path and boardwalk to improve access to the edge of the Malago. The project will run between plots 1, 3 and 5 of the Bedminster Green regeneration area along Dalby Avenue/Malago Road, Hereford Street, Whitehouse Lane and Clarke Street.

We have declared climate and ecological emergencies, committing to do as much as we can to combat climate change and bring back lost wildlife in Bristol. A big part of the river restoration project is about enhancing the channel and banks of the Malago to a more natural condition to encourage biodiversity. This will include widening the river corridor, altering the flow speed to allow vegetation to grow, and removing and treating invasive non-native species to allow native species to thrive.

An artist's impression of Bedminster Green shows a restored River Malago in the foreground, with trees and green space visible before buildings in the background.

On top of being a wonderful new feature for the community to enjoy, restoring sections of the river will help to reduce flood risk in the local area. We’ll do this by lowering ground levels in the green, installing a grid across the entrance to where the river goes back underground under East Street to trap debris and prevent blockages, and making the channel narrower to improve the speed of flows to prevent stagnation.

Our proposals also deliver improvements to the heritage of the river and will facilitate the repair of historic river channel walls. The river restoration will restore the existing penstock structure, which is a metal sluice gate that’s part of Bedminster’s industrial heritage.

If the planning application is approved, construction work will take place in phases from 2023 and will be coordinated with the other Bedminster Green development works. When complete, it will help to restore the river and heritage features, reduce flood risk in the area, and create high quality green space for existing and future residents of the proposed homes in the surrounding Bedminster Green and Whitehouse Street developments to enjoy for years to come.

The planning application can be viewed on the council’s website using the reference number 23/00611/FB.

Keeping our harbour afloat

Bristol’s historic harbour must become an asset for the benefit of our whole city, one which is financially sustainable, accessible, and contributes to our wider aims of climate resilience and biodiversity.

To keep our harbour afloat, we’re reviewing its operations, updating the governance, and also looking for opportunities to invest in our offer and make it accessible for all communities. The harbour review will correct decades of neglect to its physical infrastructure, as well as the way it has been run. It’s true that, since the floating harbour was built in 1809, little has been done to maintain it – particularly since the docks closed to commercial shipping in 1975. Recently we’ve invested millions in repairing the sluices at Underfall Yard and made progress on the harbour walls but, unfortunately, despite being an iconic part of Bristol, the harbour has become a financial drain on the city. Under the current model, the harbour has a shortfall of around £500,000 – meaning that it impacts on the same budgets used for frontline council services.

Recently, the fees and charges have been benchmarked to rates in comparable harbours in the UK. Two other pieces of work which relate to the Harbour Review work will come to cabinet in March. They are steps forward towards a sustainable future of the harbour. These are:

The funding of the Capricorn Quay project – making 32 more berths available for boats, we are investing in new pontoons and washroom facilities. We are also harnessing WECA’s green recovery funding to expand the project, to further strengthen the biodiversity of our harbour and waterways.

Beginning the process to update the Bristol Harbour revision order – agreeing to submit an updated order through the Marine Management Organisation who manage the application on behalf of the Department for Transport after a 42-day period of public consultation. This will update the last Order completed in 1998. It’s expected to take 18 months to process.

More details will be released in due course as part of the normal cabinet publication process.

I can also update on the Western Harbour as we continue to work through WECA to fund the master planning. We’ve asked Historic England to review listings in the area to ensure that they are up to date before any design work is underway. This will include the historic locks. Our heritage is important for our city and we need to fully understand it before we think about designing for the future. 

Last year we were pleased that thousands of people offered their ideas and insights on the future of the Western Harbour. This culminated in a new vision for the area which sets out our commitments around culture, community, economy, and environment. Recently Goram Homes published their updated pipeline of potential sites for development, including A Bond and B Bond.

The vision is a great platform from which to positively move forward.  We know that we need to breathe new life into the regionally important road network here and ensure flood defences are fit for the future.  By doing this we can create the opportunity for new homes and jobs in a sustainable location, whilst celebrating the area’s heritage.

Bristol’s Climate Ask: play your part

Councillor Kye Dudd, smiling, with College Green in the background.
Today’s guest blog is from Councillor
Kye Dudd, Cabinet Member for
Climate, Ecology, Waste, and Energy

Bristol’s journey to becoming climate neutral and climate resilient by 2030 stepped up a notch three years ago this February, when the ambitious One City Climate Strategy was launched by Bristol’s Environment Board. In this time, we’ve taken huge strides towards achieving this goal.  

Our council has invested nearly £100 million into sustainable projects including building Castle Park Energy Centre, that houses England’s largest water source heat pump and supplies zero carbon heating to homes and offices nearby. And Bristol City Leap, a partnership with the private sector, will invest over £1 billion to accelerate our progress in reducing carbon emissions and improving the energy efficiency of council owned homes. This UK-first will create 1,000 new jobs and cut 140,000 tonnes of emissions over the next five years.  

We have also reduced our own carbon emissions by making our buildings more efficient and generating renewable energy and are making the switch to electric vehicles, LED streetlighting, and away from gas boilers. All this work is outlined in our recently published Bristol City Council Climate Emergency Action Plan.

Since the council is responsible for just 0.5% of direct emissions in Bristol, to reach the city-wide climate goal, it’s essential that businesses and organisations across our city play their part too, so we also took on the role of coordinating city-wide efforts, with The Bristol One City Climate Ask.  

The Climate Ask encourages others to declare their net zero ambitions and offers support to help write their plans.  

It’s been encouraging speaking with some of these organisations in recent months and hearing about their plans, and what’s even more positive is to hear so many saying how making sustainable choices has been good for business.   

I’ve especially enjoyed listening to the innovative ways that our brilliant Bristol businesses are stepping up to the challenge and making changes that are unique to their industries including a local pizza shop, Bristol Cathedral, lawyers and accountants, Avon Fire and Rescue, coffee roasters and brewers, lighting engineers, banks and schools and even a funeral home! Here’s what some of them have to say:

Dee Ryding, Founder and Owner of Divine Ceremony: 

“Divine Ceremony is the first electric funeral cortege in the South West, we’ve recently invested in a second electric vehicle, and are building a solar panel carport from which to run them. Offering our clients sustainable choices and raising awareness of the environmental impact of a funeral is an intrinsic part of the service we provide and our clients are quickly engaged – it’s a collaborative process. We are all learning how to make better choices for our loved ones and for our planet.”

Rory Ireland, Director of Bristol Twenty Coffee:

“When we started Bristol Twenty Coffee Company, we knew that we wanted quality and responsibility to define us and when we took the leap to roast our own coffee in 2014, that responsibility became paramount. We are passionate about being a fully sustainable company and each year we revisit how we can improve. In 2023 we aim to expand our electric fleet, we are scoping a heat recovery system for the roaster, we continue to strive to be plastic free, and where we can’t reduce, we our offset (through our partnership with Ecologi).”

Anna Perry, Chief Executive of Great Western Air Ambulance Charity:

“One of Great Western Air Ambulance Charity’s values is to reduce our impact on the environment, and we set ourselves the target to be carbon neutral by 2030. This is really ambitious for a charity that flies a helicopter, and operates three critical care cars! However, we are enthused by the passion and practical actions taking place in Bristol. Being specific about our net zero plans helps us engage our teams, attract and reassure new recruits and means that our supporters can be sure they are donating to an organisation that takes climate change seriously”. 

John Wright, Head of Bristol Office at Stride Treglown:

“To become Net Zero you have to start by measuring your carbon emissions and at Stride Treglown we’ve done this for many years. Our latest report includes Scope 3 emissions – those created by our purchases and suppliers. We are updating our Carbon Reduction Plan to target reduced emissions from business travel and commuting, by incentivising car sharing, public transport and active travel. And in our offices, by reducing electricity used by computers & servers, and our purchases, by seeking carbon neutral partners”. 

Jess Jones, Community Programmes Officer at Gloucestershire Cricket Club:

“At Gloucestershire County Cricket club we have committed to achieving net zero and introduced a number of measures towards reducing our emissions.  We’ve made important changes to our venue and installed 13 electric vehicle charge points, 125 bike racks, 31 solar panels and make continual investment in electrical ground staff equipment. We have a number of corporate partners who help us achieve our sustainability goals. These are all small steps in the right direction but we understand we have a lot to learn and more to change before we can achieve net zero. We believe even the smallest change can help make a difference and would encourage any organisation to start their journey to net zero.”

The One City Climate strategy logo is seen on the right of the image. On the top left of the image blue text reads: "Bristol businesses and organisations". Below green text reads: "Do your bit to help Bristol to net zero by 2030." The Bristol One City logo is bottom left with their website:

It’s inspiring to hear how these diverse Bristol organisations are making changes and leaning on their suppliers to do the same. As of 1 February 2023, 80 Bristol organisations have signed the Climate Ask.  

We know many more are taking climate action and working towards net zero, so I would urge you to sign up and let Bristol know you doing your bit.  Meet with others in your industry, share best practice, share your plans, tell your story, help the momentum.

Working in partnership is the only way we can get Bristol to net zero. We’re stronger together. 

For more Business Climate Stories, visit Bristol One City’s website.

Building a better Bristol: 2,563 new homes

We agree with the sentiment of the petition presented to Full Council last night.

Councillor Nicola Beech, my cabinet lead for strategic planning, resilience, and floods, who spoke on the petition for the Labour Group at Full Council, launched a consultation on the Local Plan in November 2022. We continue to oppose plans to build homes on Brislington Meadows, the Western Slopes, and Yew Tree Farm, and policies out to consultation reflect our position while also including new policies on biodiversity. These sit alongside our plans to plant 16,000 new trees in Bristol this year, adding to the 80,000 trees planted in our city since 2015 (averaging to 10,500 per year), announced during National Tree Week.

The aforementioned sites were allocated for development under the previous administration, following public consultation – which is how planning policy is set. To influence future policy, far more than signing petitions, it is essential that people respond to share their views before Friday 20 January. More details are available in Nicola’s blog. Yesterday we launched a consultation on Temple Quarter, where we will work to deliver 10,000 new homes and 22,000 new jobs.

My administration has rightly made building new homes a priority for us, because it’s a priority for our fellow Bristolians. After the disruption of Brexit and the pandemic, last year Bristol built 2,563 new homes – exceeding our ambitious manifesto targets; 474 of these new homes were affordable – the most in the 12 years since Labour were last in national government; and 90% of these new homes were built on previously developed land – again demonstrating our commitment to building new homes in an environmentally responsible way. Another 3,500 new homes were under construction as of 1 April, 2022. This is fantastic news for Bristol as we continue building a city where nobody is left behind.

Our city is just 42 square miles. Our population grew by more than 10% in the decade to 2021, to 472,000, and is set to rise to 550,000 by the middle of this century. 15% of our residents – some 70,000 people – live in areas that are among the 10% most deprived in England. 19,000 people are on our housing waiting list. Over 1,000 households are living in temporary accommodation. In this context, we need to continue building in (on brownfield) and up (at higher density). Otherwise we risk being unable to minimise our sometime need to build out (onto land which has not previously been developed). Recently we have been disappointed that many of the councillors which this petition lauds, and some people already sitting comfortably in their own homes, have continued to oppose building new homes for Bristolians on brownfield sites including former car parks, former airfields, former shipyards, former schools, and former depots. Too often the crucial question, “if not there, then where?”, goes unanswered by them.

Unfortunately some single-issue campaigns often fall short of engaging with our city in the fullness of the reality of life here. We face a housing crisis, at the same time as ecological and climate emergencies, the national cost of living crisis, recovering from the pandemic, and other major pressures. There is no magic button to turn off any of these to focus on a favourite – they must all be considered and tackled at once. This is why we have prioritised an approach which delivers social and environmental justice hand-in-hand, using the UN’s interdependent Sustainable Development Goals as our framework. And we continue to shape global policy through Global Goals Week, COP27, and my TED Talk on cities and the climate crisis. You may be among the more than 1.5 million people who have watched the latter.

We are determined to start 2023 by continuing to deliver on what matters to Bristolians. My administration remains focused on carrying on tackling our city’s challenges and getting stuff done to give Bristol the best possible future. For more on our vision for our city, with new jobs, new homes, clean energy, new schools, and mass transit, watch Bristol 2032.

How Bristol is helping its citizens with the energy crisis  

Councillor Kye Dudd, smiling, with College Green in the background.
Today’s blog is by Councillor Kye Dudd, Cabinet
Member for Climate, Ecology, Waste, and Energy
and Labour Councillor for Southmead ward

As the national cost of living crisis continues into the New Year, many households across Bristol remain in financial difficulty. Our cost of living support site has a dedicated page signposting citizens in need of help with their energy bills. 

Across Bristol, charities and organisations are stepping up to support citizens in helping with bills and making their homes warmer and more energy efficient. 

Bristol Energy Network (BEN) will be attending the New Monday event at The Galleries in Broadmead on Monday 16 January, between 11am and 2pm, to offer guidance and advice to citizens looking to reduce their energy use and save money. There will also be a dedicated Energy drop-in morning at Easton Community Centre on Tuesday 24 January between 10am and 12pm. 

For people working or volunteering in their communities, BEN will be running free, online ‘Energy Help Desk’ training sessions. If you’re interested in attending, please contact for dates and times. 

Last month we shared a guest blog from the Centre for Sustainable Energy, who provide support to people experiencing fuel poverty, including advice for what to do if you can’t pay your bills, ideas for how to stay warm for less plus a useful tool that tells you how much electricity common appliances use: what uses watt?  

Older buildings across Bristol are less likely to be insulated, so a great way to make your home warmer is to draughtproof and insulate where possible. The Centre for Sustainable Energy have ideas for lower cost options with their DIY draughtproofing tips, and you can hear from Bristol resident Simon on how they made their home more warm and comfortable in his short film: 

Households aren’t the only ones struggling with rising energy costs; charities, community organisations, and small businesses in Bristol are also feeling the pinch. Bristol Climate Hub have tips for making your community building energy efficient and Bristol Green Capital Partnership have a guide to reducing emissions from energy for businesses.

Making our homes and premises more energy efficient will not only help households and organisations save money but will help reduce Bristol’s carbon emissions. 2022 was the hottest year since records began and many countries across the globe are reporting that this month is their hottest January. We’ve also seen more and more extreme weather events in recent years.  

Overuse of energy is a primary contributor to climate change, so by reducing energy use, we’re all helping Bristol reach its goal to be net zero by 2030. 

A heating engineer checking a boiler.

Our administration has secured the City Leap partnership, creating 1,000 new jobs and reducing 140,000 tonnes of emissions over its first five years. It will, amongst other things, deliver energy efficiency measures, renewables and decarbonisation projects to the council’s corporate estate reducing our emissions. As part of the project’s initial £424 million investment, energy efficiency and renewable energy measures will be delivered across the council’s social housing. You can find out what else the council are doing to reduce our own energy use on Our climate action on electricity and Our climate action on heat and buildings web pages. 

The council, however, is responsible for around 0.5% of the city’s emissions, meaning we need organisations and homes to play their part. Last year, we launched the Bristol Climate Ask, which encourages Bristol businesses and organisations to declare their ambition to work towards net zero, it’s great to see so many signing up and reporting that many of their measure are proving good for business. 

If you’re not effected by the cost-of-living crisis and would like to help those who are struggling, you can donate to the Share the Warmth appeal (Centre for Sustainable Energy), Bristol Emergency Winter Fuel Fund (Bristol Energy Network) or Donate to the Local Crisis Prevention Fund: Discretionary Giving

Happy Newt Year! Restoring historic ponds at Stoke Park Estate

Today’s blog is from Councillor Ellie King,
Cabinet Member for Communities and Public Health and Labour Councillor for Hillfields

Work will soon begin at Stoke Park Estate to restore three historic ponds so they can once again provide a wonderful wetland home for a variety of wildlife species.

Ponds of any size are havens for a wide variety of freshwater species such as amphibians, aquatic plants, and invertebrates. Unfortunately, ponds are under increasing threat nationally, with one estimate putting the loss of ponds over the last century in the UK at 50 per cent.

Over the years the ponds at Stoke Park Estate have become over-grown with vegetation and silted up. However, these three ponds will soon become thriving oases for wildlife in Bristol once again. The wonderful array of wildlife that depends on pond ecosystems includes frogs, beetles, dragonflies, water fleas, shrimp, and aquatic snails. The beautiful great crested newt, which has suffered a decline in population, has also been seen in the ponds and surrounding landscape of Stoke Park Estate. 

One of Stoke Parks three points, slightly frosted over.

Ponds are an important breeding habitat for this species, that is protected by European law, and we’re looking forward to welcoming the newts, (who are currently hibernating within surrounding land) back to their restored ponds in time for spring frolics! Care will be taken to avoid disturbing these hibernation habitats during the works, and ponds will be permanently fenced to avoid disturbance from dogs and livestock.

When we declared an Ecological Emergency in 2020, we committed to doing as much as we could to bring back lost wildlife to communities in Bristol. Through investment in projects such as this and more recently the restoration and improvements of St George Park Lake, we aim to provide more habitats for animal and plant life to flourish in the city and help the population of the great crested newt recover.

A photo of a great crested Newt siting in the mud.

Part of the funding for the restoration of these ponds has been awarded by Natural England from their District Level Licensing scheme for great crested newts. Works will be overseen by the Farming and Wildlife Advisory Group (FWAG), who hold the necessary licence for great crested newts. Additional money has also been awarded by the Bristol Avon Catchment Partnership. This was a funding bid led by the Stoke Park Community Group volunteers and will enable the group to provide equipment, materials, tools and training for local volunteers to carry out some of the restoration work themselves. We want to thank the funders and the volunteers for their commitment and passion towards the estate and its wildlife.

Two of the ponds are dew ponds, cobble-lined ponds which were historically built as a source of drinking water for livestock: providing another fascinating glimpse into the history of the estate. We have consulted with Historic England, who support the work, and one of the dew ponds, which was part of landscaper Thomas Wright’s original park design in the 1750s, is believed to have a spiderweb pattern in its cobble lining. I am excited to find out more as the cobbles are uncovered!

Stoke Park pond, one of three in the park.

To read more about how we are managing more of our hundreds of parks and green spaces for the benefit of wildlife, visit the council’s website.

To keep up to date with the progress of the works on the ponds on Stoke Park Estate or find out more about volunteering visit our Stoke Park Restoration webpages.

You can also find out what the volunteers are up to, with videos and updates of the work being carried out on the Stoke Park Community Group website.