School project help spread eco message

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A total of 84% of Aberdeenshire schools are currently taking part in the Eco-schools sustainability awards programme, councillors were told at a recent meeting of the Education, Learning and Leisure (EL&L) Committee.

Members were given an update on how the EL&L service is contributing to the council’s sustainability charter, which focuses on a number of key areas, including reducing the demand for energy; reducing business travel; monitoring and reducing all categories of waste; and raising awareness of sustainability.

Councillors were told that the promotion of behavioural change amongst Aberdeenshire pupils through the Eco-Schools programme was an important strand of EL&L’s approach to the charter.

Highlights of 2012 include Longhaven Primary School’s achievement in the Total Green School Awards, securing a place in the National finals in London after they created an Eco Den using a disused shed.

The committee also heard that over 90% of council schools were involved in the School Travel Planning Process, which looks to provide practical and sustainable ways for children to get to school. Investment in walking, cycling and public transport infrastructure, alongside the promotion of active travel, was highlighted as being a key part of the process.

Food waste recycling is in place at Mintlaw and New Deer Primaries, while another 14 schools are taking part in a food composting trial. Biomass boilers have been installed in Peterhead Academy and are incorporated in the Fraserburgh Sports and Community Centre, Mearns Community Campus Academy and proposed for the replacement Ellon Academy.

In addition, there are a number of planning applications going forward for the installation of solar panels for seven academies.

A total of £52,500 was saved by the EL&L service through a reduction in business mileage in the last financial year.

Aberdeenshire Council’s Chair of the Education, Learning and Leisure Committee, Councillor Isobel Davidson, said: “It is fantastic to hear of the high number Aberdeenshire schools now embracing the Eco-Schools Award Programme and I hope that this percentage rises still further in 2013. There has been a great deal of progress made over the last few years in raising awareness of sustainability.”