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An exciting new initiative has been launched to recognise the business community’s efforts to go green and be more sustainable

Businesses of all sizes across the region are being invited to apply for Green South Downs – a new programme that rewards enterprises for taking steps towards helping the environment and local community.

It comes after a successful pilot scheme which saw 19 businesses win gold, silver or bronze certificates for taking simple measures to help the planet, such as reducing carbon consumption, reducing water usage, volunteering and creating space for wildlife. Businesses that have so far received awards include a brewery, farm shop, museums, and holiday firms.

The scheme has been launched by the South Downs National Park Authority in partnership with Green Tourism.

Businesses that sign up to Green South Downs will receive a step-by-step bespoke package to help them on their journey and will receive training on sustainability and carbon literacy, as well as strategic support around waste management, climate action, nature, and energy.

The certification is based on Green Tourism’s industry-leading assessment framework, which provides a holistic review of a business’ sustainability performance, based on three areas: people, place, and planet.

Taking part in the pilot scheme and achieving a bronze award, the team at Tottington Manor, Henfield – a hotel, restaurant, and event venue – has been taking huge steps to reduce its environmental impact. It has been thrilled to share how joining ‘Our South Downs’ sustainable business network and completing the ‘Green South Downs’ programme is helping the team achieve its environmental goals.

Director Steve Pomery comments, “We were quite new to the area, so ‘Our South Downs’ seemed like an excellent way to be able to work more closely with other businesses in the South Downs National Park, and find out more about what was happening here. Being a network focused on sustainability also provided the opportunity to pick up ideas on other ways we could improve our processes.

“We took part in the ‘Green South Downs’ scheme as it seemed like the right thing to do for our business to help us justify that the steps we had already taken were the right ones for us, – and they were!

“We got to spend time with businesses facing similar challenges to us, and to talk them through together. The decisions we have made up until now, and that we will make going forward, aren’t always going to be easy. They will require investment, but making these changes to the way we operate is the right thing to do morally and will result in return later down the line.”

The Green South Down’s programme is only available to members of the free-to-join ‘Our South Downs’ business network.

Since May 2022, over 200 sustainably-minded businesses have come together to form the ‘Our South Downs’ business network. Run by the South Downs National Park Authority, the network aims to shorten rural supply chains and to promote business sustainability towards a net zero future,  through support, advice and collaboration. 

Nick Heasman leader of the ‘Our South Downs’ enterprise team at the National Park says, “The Green South Downs Certification is a superb way to work towards sustainability goals, while also demonstrating your environmental credentials to your stakeholders. So many businesses are beginning, or thinking about, their journey to net zero and we want to give them a helping hand.”

‘Our South Downs’ membership

Being a member of ‘Our South Downs’ includes a number of benefits:

• Joining a members directory, including mapping and product/service listings to consumers and other businesses.
• A monthly newsletter with advice and support around maximising energy efficiency and creating stronger supply chains.
• A regularly updated online portal with information for businesses to help with planning, as well as search for and connect with other like-minded businesses.
• Access to tourism and land-based schemes such as Dark Skies Welcome, and Cyclists and Walkers Welcome
• The opportunity to join an internationally recognised ‘Green South Downs’ certification scheme that offers pragmatic sustainability support through online workshops and an awards programme to recognise sustainable businesses across the South Downs region.
• Free business mentoring session from the Association of Business Mentors.
• A free downloadable toolkit of business resources provided by Sussex Innovation Centre.
• Information on new funding opportunities.
• Discounted use of South Downs National Park venues and partner discount schemes.

For more information visit https://oursouthdowns.co.uk

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