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2012 Environmental Awards

Published: 16 November 2012

2012 Award Winners l-r: Julie Thomson, Cheryl Jamieson (both Gariesfauld Youth Hostel), George Sutherland, Beth Gerrard (Sandgarth Tree Project), Rick Nickerson (on behalf of the Shetland Community for Da Voar Redd Up) and Cecilia James ZoomShetland Amenity Trust presented the Shetland Environmental Awards at a ceremony held in the Museum and Archives today. The awards acknowledged four local environmental projects demonstrating sustainability, innovation and best practice.

Brian Gregson, Chairman of Shetland Amenity Trust and the Shetland Environment Group which judge the awards, said: "The awards attracted nominations for a variety of projects from all sectors of the community. The award winners have again shown an outstanding commitment to our environment. Each one of the winning projects has contributed to Shetland's rich and diverse environment – an environment we all cherish and wish to preserve for the future.

On behalf of the Shetland Amenity Trust, I would like to thank the Shetland Environment Group for judging the award nominations. Finally, on behalf of the Shetland Environment Group, I would like to pass congratulations on to all of this year's winners - we hope you are proud of your award and what you have achieved."

The winners of the 2012 Shetland Environmental Awards are:

Cecilia James

Since moving to Shetland two years ago, Cecilia James has carried out regular litter picks on the roadsides and beaches in her local area. This year, spurred on by increasing levels of roadside litter and a letter in the local paper from tourists about roadside bruck, she decided to scale up her efforts and carry out a one woman redd up along the main road from Voe to Lerwick. This is an 18 mile stretch – although if you count both roadsides, the ditches and adjacent parks she is actually clearing bruck from around 100 miles! She hopes her efforts will not only clear our environment of a lot of bruck but also highlight the issue of roadside litter in Shetland and encourage people to stop littering.

Cecilia started her redd up in September and is collecting all of the bruck gathered so a final weight gathered and photos of the bruck can be taken before disposal. She hopes to reach Lerwick before Christmas and plans to send the photos with a letter to the tourists who wrote into the paper to show them that we do care about our environment.

You can follow Cecilia on the Dunna Chuck Bruck Facebook page: www.facebook.com/Dunnachuckbruck

Da Voar Redd Up Volunteers

The 25th annual Voar Redd Up took place in April 2012. Over its 25 years Da Redd Up has grown from a relatively small group of a few hundred individuals clearing mainly coastal areas of the debris washed up with the winter storms, to over 20% of the Shetland population volunteering their time to clear Shetland's coastlines and roadsides. This makes Da Voar Redd Up the largest community based voluntary clear up per head of population in the UK.

During its 25 years, more than 72,000 Redd Up volunteers have removed over 1,500 tonnes of bruck from Shetland's environment. As well as making a significant impact on the visual amenity of Shetland, the volunteers remove a large amount of bruck hazardous to wildlife, including livestock, birds, marine creatures, fish, seals and otters.

Volunteer numbers for the campaign are higher than ever, showing that islanders really care about their environment and will ensure Da Voar Redd Up is well supported for years to come.  Rick Nickerson, the man who organised the very first Voar Redd Up, accepted the award on behalf of the Shetland Community.

Gardiesfauld Youth Hostel

Run by the Unst Youth Centre Trust, Gardiesfauld Youth Hostel is a voluntary run, non-profit making, community organisation located in Uyeasound, Unst.

Gardiesfauld is the only independent hostel in Shetland and has also recently added a caravan park to its accommodation. It provides an essential service in the North Isles for islanders and visitors by providing quality, affordable accommodation.

The hostel is well placed for visitors who want to explore all three North Isles, making these islands accessible to many different groups. Regular users include Scout groups, youth groups, school groups, canoe clubs, caravan clubs and diving clubs. It is also well used by the local community, accommodating bands for local events, providing a space for gatherings, offering tours during UnstFest and the garden for land sports during the annual regatta.

Due to the historic nature of the building, maintenance costs and energy efficiency were major issues. During 2012 the Trust raised funds to undertake a series of upgrades to make the building more energy efficient, the enterprise more sustainable and improve the service on offer.

The hostel provides the North Isles with a source of tourist revenue and employs three local people on a seasonal basis, which is of great importance to such a fragile, rural community.

Sandgarth Tree Project

Since taking over the croft 26 years ago, Tony and Beth Gerrard have embarked on a tree planting scheme to create shelter belts for stock, habitat for birds and wildlife, and paths and picnic areas for leisure. Open to the public, they actively encourage visitors to come and see what they have done and enjoy the surroundings.

Other features created include a pond, which is the only known breeding site in Shetland for large red damselfly, bird feeding stations, which attract many bird species, and plants which produce flowers, berries and fruits, to encourage bees, butterflies and insects as well as birds. Local birders often drop in to see the many migrant birds which stop off to feed and Tony and Beth also regularly post sightings for others to share.

Wild flowers are actively encouraged in the meadows, plantations and around the burn, and hay/silage is not cut until seeds have set. The croft is also part of a biodiversity scheme which limits sheep numbers and excludes stock from herb rich meadows at certain times. This has resulted in many wild flower species, including some which are rare in Shetland, which creates colour and perfume to attract wildlife.

This year's awards were again sponsored by the major players within the environment sector in Shetland, including Scottish Environment Protection Agency, Scottish Natural Heritage, Shetland Islands Council, Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, Shetland Civic Society, VisitShetland and, of course, Shetland Amenity Trust. The awards presentation event was also sponsored – by the Total Laggan-Tormore Project.

The winning projects were presented with awards plaques made by Cunningsburgh based Enviroglass, from 80% recycled glass, backed with material from recycled pin boards. The high percentage of recycled materials in the plaques reflect the true nature of the awards. Captain George Sutherland made the presentations. Captain Sutherland is a Trustee of Shetland Amenity Trust and a former Chairman of the Northern Lighthouse Board.

For more infomration on the Environmental Awards, or Shetland Amenity Trust's environmental initiatives, visit the Environment Section of the website.