Staff and students at Newcastle College have been getting green-fingered in the name of sustainability this week.

More than 20 new trees were planted across the College’s city-centre Rye Hill campus to increase the green space available and improve the biodiversity, with more planned for the coming months.

The green initiative comes as sustainability takes centre stage on a global scale, with the final days of COP26 underway in Glasgow this week.

Nicola Thompson-Ross, a PGCE student at Newcastle College University Centre, was one of the first students to plant a tree. Alongside her teaching qualification, she is also undertaking an extracurricular internship in sustainability at the College and said that planting a tree was her way of “taking one step to make the world a little better.”

The initiative was one of many across the College to raise awareness of climate change and marks the launch of its Group’s Environmental Strategy, which sets out its aim to become the most sustainable college group in the UK by 2030.

Alongside the other colleges in the NCG network, Newcastle College has already begun working towards the commitments made in the Strategy, including:

  • Reducing gas and electricity emissions by 50%
  • Reducing staff and student travel emissions by 50%
  • Reducing water usage by 10%
  • Sending no waste at all to landfill
  • Reducing food waste by 50%

Green initiatives introduced by the College alongside the tree planting include the installation of electrical vehicle charging and parking points, incentives for those who cycle or use public transport and the appointment of a Green Champion to lead on sustainability initiatives across the campus.

The College is also the leading education and training provider in renewable energy and engineering across the region, nurturing talent to fulfil the North East’s ambition of becoming a key player in the UK’s green industrial revolution.

Scott Bullock, Principal of Newcastle College, commented: “As an educator, an employer and a college that sits in the heart of the North East, we have a responsibility to look honestly at our environmental impact and work hard to reduce it, which is why we have made some big commitments to reduce our carbon footprint over the next eight years.

“One of the biggest commitments we have made is that every one of our students, no matter which course they’re on, will study a module on sustainability and climate change. We want to embed a culture of sustainability within our college and within every young person who studies with us, in the hope this will prepare them for a future that will need real thought, innovation and action to save the planet.

“In trying to be a greener and more sustainable college, planting trees is just one very small thing that we can do to help, but it’s something that will have a lasting impact as these trees will be here for many years to come and is something we’ve been able to invite students to be part of. I hope that it will be one small step towards helping our city become greener and achieve Net Zero.”

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