St Andrews – A Sustainable Open

Creating a Sustainable Open

This week The Open 2015 comes to St Andrews, welcoming the world’s best golfers and over 200,000 spectators for one of the year’s biggest sporting events. A big challenge for the organisers is making sure that an event of this size is as sustainable as possible…so how do they do it?

The Open 2015 venue, St Andrews Links, holds golfs global ecolabel, GEO certified®, and the event itself operates a “GreenLinks” programme for sustainable development, making sure that the natural environment around the courses is protected, that sustainable procurement practices are used, and that waste is disposed of responsibly. The GreenLinks programme is mentored by GEO (The Golf Environment Organization).

Visitors are encouraged to travel to the event by public transport or by car share in order to reduce the carbon footprint of their journey. Once on the Links, they will be reminded to keep to the official walkways to avoid trampling and damaging habitats, and will be provided with designated recycling points to allow waste to be segregated on site, diverting it away from landfill.

Scottish producers will be supplying The Open’s food, ensuring a sustainable menu by keeping produce local to reduce food miles. Items that cannot be sourced locally (e.g. tea, coffee, chocolate, bananas) will be Fairtrade to ensure that growers receive a fair wage for their produce, as well as a premium that is invested back into their local community.

As well as this, the management of the golf courses themselves will ensure that they remain important habitats for many important species of flora and fauna that have a year-round home in St Andrews. By tending to the gorse, heather, and grassland that borders the Links courses, their growth is kept in check to ensure a diversity of wildlife can thrive – from brown hare, stoats, and weasels, to skylark, goldfinches, and barn owls. Grass clippings and gorse chippings are then composted and given away for free by The Links Trust, returning this vegetation to the soil. The Links Trust also run a fantastic Environmental Blog, where you can stay up to date on wildlife sightings on the courses.

The commitment from The Open to deliver a sustainable event is clear to see. If you’re heading to the Old Course this week have a fantastic time – enjoy the local food, drink lots of Fairtrade coffee, and be sure to keep an eye out for native species hiding in the rough!

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Be sure to check out the map of the Old Course, which highlights where wildlife can be seen at The Open.

For more information about wildlife management on the Links, download the Links Environmental Conservation Leaflet.

Spades of potential

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Deputy First Minster John Swinney joined in the official start of construction work on the £25 million University’s green energy centre at Guardbridge this month (Monday 6 July 2015).

A state-of-the-art biomass facility, using only wood from sustainable local sources, will be built on the site of a former paper mill at Guardbridge and which will pump hot water from the plant four miles underground to heat and cool laboratories and student residences in St Andrews.

The green energy centre will help to regenerate north east Fife by creating more than 225 jobs in the construction phase. The University has developed the Guardbridge Guarantee as part of the project. This ensures that the project supports apprenticeship and graduate training, creating and sustaining jobs while working with the local community to promote environment and energy projects and local business.

Mr Swinney met representatives from the University to formally hand the site over to the construction team to start work. Addressing a gathering of St Andrews staff, funders and community representatives, Mr Swinney spoke of the “fantastic, imaginative potential” of the Guardbridge project.

The University’s Chief Operating Officer Derek Watson said:

“The start of construction work at Guardbridge represents a major strategic step for the University. We are committed to becoming carbon neutral for energy and this large industrial site lends itself to the creation of a range of renewable energies which are vital to our efforts to remain one of Europe’s leading research institutions.

“With the biomass at its heart, we believe the diverse range of potential uses at Guardbridge has the capacity to re-establish this huge site as a key economic centre in Fife.”