Suffolk PCC Tim Passmore visits the new Mildenhall Hub and admires its low carbon footprint
At the end of last month, I was delighted to be shown around the new public sector Mildenhall Hub. This £40 million plus project involving many public sector partners (including the Constabulary) is a strong testament to what can be achieved in Suffolk.
Perhaps more importantly the new complex has been expertly designed to minimise its environmental impact for generations to come, using many examples of modern technology to excellent effect and minimise the use of scarce natural resources.
I was extremely impressed with what I saw; very well done to all involved.
The concerns revolving around climate change and biodiversity degradation and their potential catastrophic global impact surely means the environment is of huge significance for all of us. This topic is at the top of global and local political agendas.
My personal view is we need to raise our collective effort and think more seriously about our organisational and individual actions to combat this problem. There is no time for any half-hearted approach and I believe actions speak louder than words. I also believe we must all recognise the changes required will need significant investment and therefore it once again becomes a matter of choice and priority.
Some examples from the Mildenhall Hub include significant use of solar energy, ground source heat technology for heating the swimming pools and leisure complex and the very latest glazing and insulation designs. Electric charging points for our vehicles are being installed and the grey water system is a game changer.
During my recent election campaign, I made a specific commitment to ensure the Constabulary maximises its contribution to make much better use of scarce natural resources and support the aspiration of Suffolk Public Sector Leaders to make the county carbon neutral by 2030. I completely understand this is an enormous challenge for us all.
As part of this financial year’s policing element of the Council Tax investment there will be a specialist sustainability officer recruited to oversee the Constabulary’s environmental plans. One of the first tasks is to establish precisely what level of natural resources are being used and what the force’s carbon footprint actually is. All areas will be audited including the estate, supply chains and the transport fleet.
Some work has already taken place – for example, the trial on using electric vehicles in Haverhill is being evaluated and there will be a commitment to increase the use of electric powered vehicles. I also think we need to be open-minded regarding other forms of transportation power; great progress is being made by companies such as JCB and Jaguar Land Rover on using hydrogen energy. I would like to see Suffolk help pioneer the use of hydrogen fuel, especially as the new Freeport East development will include construction of a major hydrogen hub.
The Constabulary’s innovation team has already presented a package of ideas to me as examples of what our contribution to the county’s green programme will be. These include replacement of old hand dryers, sanitation systems minimising the use of water, improved driving techniques supported with technology, remote working and potential offsetting initiatives.
I have a personal interest in assessing the environmental impact of our supply chain, as it is no good ‘exporting’ waste reduction and carbon footprints to other countries around the world. Inevitably there will need to be a balance struck between value for money, environmental impact and supporting our local economy – but at the moment I don’t think we actually know what the data shows. If you do not understand the starting point for addressing these subjects, it’s very unlikely the correct decisions will be made.
I really look forward to being involved with more projects like the Mildenhall Hub, working with the new sustainably officer, partners across the county and local communities, since it’s the power of collaboration which will yield success for Suffolk. As Prince Charles said at the recent G7 summit, we need to use political will and business ingenuity to tackle these environmental challenges – and I agree!