Starfish Talent 20 - the climate emergency talent

02 March 2022

Councils across the country have now declared a climate emergency and those authorities who have not yet passed declarations are placing far greater emphasis on tackling climate change.

COP26 demonstrated local government’s passion, influence and pragmatism and councils continue to lead pioneering work to achieve net zero carbon emissions. In this feature, we celebrate the achievements of twenty officers recognised for their commitment, skills and creativity in their work to achieve net zero carbon emissions and slow global warming.

Jo Pearce

Corporate Energy Manager, Exeter City Council

Jo is the lead officer and champion for net zero at Exeter City Council, responsible for the delivery of the council’s carbon reduction plan and net zero ambitions. Jo has helped to deliver an ambitious and innovative programme spanning more than 22 energy efficient and renewable projects including the first rooftop solar canopy arrays and one of the first networks of electric vehicle charge points in the South West. Jo’s latest project is 45% funded by the European Union under the ERDF Programme and includes a solar farm and three battery stores, with a private wire to the council’s operational depot to enable the electrification of their fleet.

Elliott Grimshaw

Business Improvement and Project Lead, Lancaster City Council

Delivering the council’s carbon reduction projects, Elliott and his team have played a key role in moving the council towards carbon neutrality. During 21/22 the council secured £7m of government funding which allowed Elliott’s team to deliver some transformational projects. This has included the council’s fleet electrification programme, an innovative local car club, heat decarbonisation plans and creating one of the first carbon neutral leisure centres in the UK. Elliott has been instrumental in shaping the council’s approach, developing projects, securing funding, addressing challenges and managing delivery. The approach and projects have captured the attention of The MJ, APSE and UK100.

Harry Baross

Climate Change and Carbon Reduction Officer, Scarborough Borough Council

A fantastic achievement having been in post for just over a year, Harry has shared his passion for tackling climate change and reached every corner of the council. His work started quickly as a catalyst for change in producing Scarborough’s Climate Change Strategy and he has since become a central figure in Scarborough’s decarbonisation projects from rolling out electric vehicle charge points to supporting circular communities. His success has built on a unique job split with the North York Moors National Park Authority, sharing key learnings between the organisations and paving the way for the council and Park Authority to continue working in partnership on a range of exciting projects.

Martin Budd

Climate Change Manager, Hull City Council

Martin’s expertise and passion for leading the council’s response to addressing environmental impact and climate change has underpinned his career. Martin’s background in housing regeneration and community development alongside 20 years’ experience working on the climate agenda means that his deep-seated knowledge is regularly sought out by colleagues within the council and beyond. Martin has proudly led the council’s climate response since 2001 and has presented on behalf of Hull CC at regional and national events; playing an advisory role to national Government on local climate adaptation.

Heather Kiel

Programme Manager for Low Carbon Dorset, Dorset Council

Heather joined Dorset Council in 2021 to lead its Low Carbon Dorset programme. Drawing on her background in international development, Heather now focuses on the local – managing a team of high achieving officers to deliver an ambitious programme of low-carbon initiatives across Dorset. The team works tirelessly in supporting local business, community, and public sector projects to tackle emissions, making a tangible difference on the ground. As a result, 8,000 tonnes of CO2 have already been saved. Looking to the future, Heather hopes to secure Low Carbon Dorset’s work beyond its EU-funded lifespan.

Julia Marshall

Climate Change Programme Manager, NW Leicestershire District Council

Julia’s passion and drive is evident in how she leads, challenges and supports teams to view their activities through a zero carbon lens and so influences decision-making across the organisation. New to the council, with a corporate background and fresh perspective, Julia engaged early with teams across the council to publicise the zero carbon action plan and identify where responsibility and involvement lay. Julia has been instrumental in sourcing accurate data to inform policy and build robust business cases, one example being the recent decision to decarbonise the council fleet. Julia’s commitment is making a huge impact and inspiring a zero carbon conscience across the organisation.

Harjot Rayet

Climate Change & Sustainability Coordinator, Telford & Wrekin Council

A skilled planner and effective influencer, Harj leads on the development and delivery of the council’s operational climate change action plan – independently ranked as the top unitary authority plan in the West Midlands. Through this plan and her advisory work embedding sustainability across service areas, Harj has helped the council reduce emissions by 57% over the last two years. Harj has also coordinated external stakeholders including local businesses and organisations to develop a borough-wide ‘carbon neutral by 2030’ action plan. A fantastic achievement and we look forward to watching Harj continue to innovate.

Lloyd Jones

North East Community Forest Lead Officer, Newcastle City Council

Lloyd has a passion for tackling the climate crisis through urban and community forestry. He is known for leading by example and has been instrumental in the launch of the North East Community Forest, a scheme that will see tens of thousands of trees planted across the region by 2050. Lloyd has forged excellent partnerships with other local councils and North East Community Forest Partnership organisations which have been vital in helping to create a greener, healthier future for the city. His enthusiasm for the project is valued across the council and the wider region and the project is seen as a fantastic exemplar of good practice.

Emma Slater

Project Manager, Sustainable Energy and Air Quality, Leeds City Council

Emma is a project manager in Leeds City Council’s Sustainable Energy & Air Quality service. Following a successful funding award of £25m in January 2021, she has been leading a programme of decarbonisation, overseeing the installation of low-carbon technology across 40 council buildings. The project had incredibly tight timescales set by the funding provider and has had to be delivered at terrific pace. Emma has risen to the challenge, completing the project within time, cost and quality parameters. Emma overcame a huge range of complex asset management issues to succeed, proving her project management skills are second to none.

Sam Kirk

Head of Sustainability and Environment, London Borough of Hackney

Sam is recognised as an ambassador for Hackney’s climate ambitions. Her drive, determination and passion has seen the successful implementation of a fortnightly waste collection as well as a 5.5% increase in street level recycling. She has also led Hackney’s partnership with the ‘Library of Things’ which aims to reduce household waste by offering people the opportunity to rent rather than buy items such as drills, carpet cleaners and sewing machines. Sam also co-chairs the Strategic Officer Climate Group which is leading on the development of Hackney’s Climate Action Plan and the council-wide carbon literacy programme.

Gavin Slater

Head of Sustainability, Glasgow City Council

Gavin is leading the city’s commitment to becoming net zero carbon by 2030 and establishing Glasgow as a vanguard city in dealing with the climate emergency through delivery and management of the Glasgow Climate Plan. More recently, Gavin played a critical role in leading the presentation of Glasgow’s approach at COP26, ensuring the city was an active voice at the conference, engaging with delegates from across the world to share ideas and solutions to tackle the climate emergency. Gavin’s unwavering commitment to sustainability and building partnerships has been instrumental in helping Glasgow exceed its carbon targets for 2020. A fantastic achievement Gavin. We look forward to future presentations.

Lizzie Kemp

Energy Management Specialist, Redcar and Cleveland Borough Council

Lizzie joined Redcar and Cleveland Borough Council in 2011 as an apprentice in the Energy Team and since then has demonstrated her passion and commitment to reducing the council’s carbon footprint. In 2013 her efforts won her the North East network award at the National Carbon Action Network Awards. In her current role, Lizzie has consistently delivered against the council’s year on year carbon reduction achievements. During her time in the team, C02 emissions from energy consumption have reduced by more than 16,100 tons. Lizzie’s work is a key component of the council’s overall drive to become a carbon neutral organisation by 2030.

Eshwyn Prabhu

Acting Head of Transport Strategy and Active Travel, London Borough of Islington

With over 20 years of experience working for local authorities in London, Eshwyn has delivered a wide range of major transport and development projects. His service, which is a key team within the council’s Climate Change and Transport division, is at the forefront of delivery to meet the climate emergency head on and deliver net zero carbon in Islington by 2030. Eshwyn has been instrumental in delivering the council’s programme of ‘people friendly’ streets including low traffic neighbourhoods, cycleways and initiatives that encourage active travel including bike hangers and cycle training. Eshwyn will continue to pioneer active travel across London and beyond.

Ariane Crampton

Head of Climate Programme, Wiltshire Council

Ariane has played a key leadership role in developing Wiltshire Council’s approach to tackling climate change. Her collaborative, partnership approach sees her working across council departments and with residents, public sector partners and housing associations and has delivered a robust strategy. Climate Emergency UK has recognised Wiltshire Council as the highest scoring rural unitary council in its recent assessment of climate plans across the country and there is no doubt that Ariane has played a massive role. As a qualified coach Ariane is described as an inspirational leader who motivates colleagues across the council to tackle the climate crisis.

Nicola Farrell

Principal Sustainability Officer, Bolton Council

Nicola is passionate about environmental issues and working with others to deliver change on the ground. She has been with Bolton Council since 2006, most recently working with key partners across the town on the delivery of its first climate change strategy. Nicola is proud of her work across a diverse range of initiatives, including sustainability appraisals, heat network proposals, promoting Fairtrade and last year working with students from the University of Bolton on a climate change hackathon.

Victoria Jeffrey

Head of Climate Action and Sustainability, London Borough of Sutton

Victoria is leading Sutton’s ambitious environment strategy and climate emergency response plan. Sutton is proud of its longstanding green credentials, but Victoria is driving forward the next phase of Sutton’s journey with a commitment to deliver a wide range of actions spanning retrofitting, significant reductions to council emissions and many more. Victoria is recognised for her longstanding commitment to resident engagement on climate change and is admired for her work embedding resident engagement into the core of Sutton’s innovative projects and plans for the future.

Hayley Trower

Air Quality Improvement Manager, Portsmouth City Council

Soon after joining the council, Hayley led the development of measures to reduce illegal levels of air pollution in the city. Since then, her role has grown in scale and complexity and she is currently leading a team delivering the city council’s air quality improvement programme, which includes a charging Clean Air Zone (CAZ) in the city centre. Portsmouth’s CAZ was the third in the country to launch and was designed, delivered and made operational within an ambitious nine-month timeframe. Pace and delivery aside, Hayley has been instrumental in ensuring that stakeholder engagement underpins the air quality improvement programme and Portsmouth’s high quality communications with their residents and businesses.

Lowell Lewis

SHEQ Manager, Coventry City Council

Lowell leads the facilities management energy services team for Coventry City Council. The team delivers decarbonisation projects across the council estate and supports other council services with their energy management and climate change challenges. This includes procurement advice, day to day management of utility contracts including validation and dispute resolution, reporting on consumption, and spend and sharing intelligence on carbon emission reduction policy. Lowell’s achievements and talents are not just recognised by Coventry – he was awarded Utility Manager of the Year in the 2021 EMA Awards.

Sarah Gilbert

Climate Action Team Leader, Oxfordshire County Council

Sarah manages the joint team working across Cherwell DC and the county council to tackle the climate emergency. The team’s work is wide ranging – working with partners on Project Local Energy Oxfordshire to develop an electricity system to support the scale up, growing community outreach on climate through the Community Action Group network, and developing a number of programmes to support growth of domestic retrofit and electric vehicle charging. Sarah’s commitment is evident through her personal development and learning and she is a recent alumni of the University of Cambridge’s Institute for Sustainability Leadership.

Laurence Pullan

Head of Communications, Warrington Borough Council

Laurence joined the council in 2016 and was quickly promoted to Head of Communications. Laurence’s high calibre communications and campaigns work is recognised right across the council and his leadership of Warrington’s ambitious climate emergency communications plan has been particularly well received. Laurence has played a critical role in finding new ways of engaging and inspiring Warrington’s residents, businesses and community and voluntary sector groups to support the council’s action plan to achieve carbon neutrality by 2030. The importance of communications and engagement in tackling climate change has never been greater and the council is delighted to see Laurence recognised in this space.

Leadership journeys, expertly navigated.

When it comes to creating leadership teams who will change our world for the better, the best course to steer is not necessarily the most obvious. We don’t shy away from difficult conversations or less predictable choices; we tell it how it is and we recruit across a range of sectors to access diverse talent.

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