News on environmental and sustainability developments and issues. All our groups contribute on the environment and sustainability (See More Details). We also post items of interest on environment and sustainability from other organisations, including the government.
The environment is a pressing concern for Guildford. It affects all of us and should inform all development.
The Society does not at present have a group focussed solely on environmental matters, as most aspects relating to the environment are covered by our working groups. However, we support and collaborate with bodies such as Guildford Environmental Forum and the National Trust.
Guildford is situated in a wonderful natural environment formed by the North Downs. Our town sits on the edge of the Surrey Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. The northern part of the borough contains part of the internationally recognised Thames Basin Heaths Special Protection Area.
In all our areas, natural habitats are under continuous pressure from development and over-use. The Society supports efforts to manage our natural environment and to ensure the town and urban areas are linked effectively to the countryside. We wish to see the Wey Navigation preserved and are keen to explore whether moving the AONB to National Park status would be beneficial.
The built environment in Guildford must play its part in providing sustainable living. This includes upgrading existing buildings to the latest environment standards wherever possible. Environmentally friendly buildings can be of high-quality design and economic to build. The Society is also keen to see buildings repurposed, rather than knocked down and rebuilt. Many newer buildings have substantial life left in their steel and concrete structures. Planning policies should encourage sustainable communities which are not car dependent, and respond to the need to minimise commuting. Our Design and Planning Groups review and comment on these issues.
Transport is a critical area for Guildford, where pollution and congestion must be reduced. Active travel, such as cycling and walking, also provides health benefits compared with car or public transport use. Our Transport Group promotes changes to the local transport system.
The economics of the environment are of particular relevance to Guildford. New technology such as 5G, emerging from local education establishments and companies, can create new sustainable employment opportunities. Guildford could also become a ‘gateway’ to the North Downs supporting sustainable tourism. The Strategy and Economics Group is concerned that Guildford adapts its economy in a strategic manner to meet the challenges ahead.
Waste management in all its forms should not be overlooked. This is an area where technology is advancing, and there are possibilities to improve recycling and to use waste as an energy source.
The Society believes the challenges we face on environmental issues are an opportunity for Guildford to show leadership in the UK. We should also learn from others: for example, from our twin town of Freiburg, in southern Germany, an acclaimed example of sustainable urban living.
Getting involved allows the society to continue its work. We welcome new members, from every age and background. Membership provides an opportunity for you to contribute to the continued health of the town and surrounding area, and to meet other people who care about Guildford.