HebCelt makes big impression with small footprint

'Green' accolades for the Hebridean Celtic Festival! Photo: Colin Cameron
'Green' accolades for the Hebridean Celtic Festival! Photo: Colin Cameron

The Hebridean Celtic Festival has been hailed as one of the greenest in the world after winning a prestigious environmental award.

HebCelt is the only Scottish festival to receive an Outstanding award from A Greener Festival, an environmental campaign group committed to helping music and arts events and festivals around the world adopt environmentally efficient practices.

It joins ten other events in Australia, the US, Norway, Sweden, the Netherlands and England in achieving the honour.

In a separate vote of confidence to its environmental credentials, HebCelt has also been shortlisted in the Greener Festival award category in the UK Festival Awards where it is up against nine other festivals, including Glastonbury.

According to the awards organisers, festivals that received Outstanding awards are: “Exceptional events which have significantly reduced greenhouse gas emissions, have excellent travel, transport and waste management programmes, protect the environment and minimise water use and communicate this to the public.”

To achieve the accolade, each festival had to complete a detailed 45-question self-assessment, submit information such as a carbon footprint, traffic, waste and recycling management plans, and was assessed by an independent environmental assessor onsite during their event.

Helen Innes, the awards co-ordinator and co-director, said: “A Greener Festival are delighted with HebCelt’s result.

“Our assessors were particularly impressed with the team’s strong management and their willingness to trial innovation and creative solutions.

“Strong waste, carbon, energy and water management plans and implementation are all contributing factors to this great result.

“Well done to the entire team who have demonstrated an environmental commitment at the core of their organisation.”

HebCelt’s recognition follows the most successful festival in the event’s 18-year history.

This year saw the introduction of a successful Recycle and Reward scheme where festival goers were given the chance to win prizes by returning and recycling their drinks containers.

HebCelt was one of 12 venues in Scotland to host pilot schemes which were part of the Scottish Government’s Zero Waste Scotland programme to encourage people to recycle more and limit the amount of used drinks containers going to landfill.

It was the latest green initiative by HebCelt, which in April graduated from the Carbon Trust Scotland’s Carbon Management programme.

The festival has committed to decreasing its carbon emissions by 14 per cent by 2017 and the Hebridean Celtic Festival Trust has drawn up a series of long-term aims to help minimise the event’s impact on the environment.

This includes the sustainable use of resources, reducing emissions and raising awareness of environmental matters among volunteers, suppliers, contractors, artists and festival goers.

Caroline MacLennan, the festival director, said: “These latest accolades are fantastic rewards for our team’s efforts in making HebCelt a more environmentally-friendly occasion.

“We are serious about protecting our unique environment and will continue to spread the message amongst our volunteers, staff, audience and performers to help make HebCelt one of the greenest festivals about.”

And Marina Fraser from Zero Waste Scotland added: “Without a doubt the recycle and reward scheme was a huge success at HebCelt, with festival goers queuing to recycle their drinks as well as to buy them! 

“It was also great to see so many young people engaged with the project, by collecting and recycling many hundreds of plastic containers and cans each from the site, helping to keep it litter free.”

Meanwhile, HebCelt has been shortlisted in the Greener Festival Award category in the UK Festival Awards (coincidentally, chosen by A Greener Festival).

And already this year HebCelt was selected for the third year in succession as one of the top ten UK summer festivals by music magazine Songlines. .

The event was also shortlisted in the Best Independent Festival category in the AIM Independent Music Awards and has been nominated in the Festival of the Year category in this year’s UK Event Awards where it is up against the Coronation Festival at Buckingham Palace; Barclaycard Presents British Summer Time Hyde Park and the Backspace festival in Leamington Spa.