Manchester-based independent paint manufacturer, HMG Paints, has gained a prestigious environmental accolade for its imaginative landscaping work on the banks of the River Irk, which flows through the company's head office site in Collyhurst.
It was the winner of the Waterside Regeneration Award for small to medium-sized companies in the Northwest Business Environment 2003 scheme, organised by the Mersey Basin Campaign in association with the CBI and Royal Bank of Scotland.
HMG was one of only six NW organisations to gain an award, in what is regarded as the first significant regional initiative to recognise environmental excellence. The award, which was specially commissioned from recycled glass, was presented by Walter Menzies, Chief Executive of the government-sponsored Mersey Basin Campaign, and was received by HMG's Marketing Manager, Alison Patterson, who is also a member of the Irk Valley Project steering group.
The firm's Chairman, Brian Falder, who has taken a keen interest in HMG's waterside development, also attended the event, which was held at Salford's distinguished Lowry Hotel on the banks of the River Irwell.
Commenting on the award winners, Claire Wilson, Mersey Basin Campaign's Regional Programme Manager, said: "Our rivers and waterfronts are vital centres of regeneration in the North West, from the canal sides of central Manchester to the vision of the Mersey Waterfront Regional Park. These awards acknowledge businesses like HMG, which have recognised the value of the region's watercourses and regenerated their waterside location. They also demonstrate that many companies are working to build a better business and a better environment."
Developed in response to a MORI poll, which indicated that 50% of the public believe that companies should give equal attention to society and the environment, as to financial performance, the Northwest Business Environment Awards are presented in three categories and are open to organisations of all sizes throughout the region.
Focusing on schemes that have made best use of water as an integral part of landscape design, the Waterside Regeneration category recognised outstanding developments that enhance NW waterways. Dating back more than a decade, HMG Paints' own waterside regeneration project has entailed the rebuilding of river walls and terracing, the installation of carved stone steps and handrails to facilitate access, the commissioning of sculptures for the site from local artists, and the planting of almost 2000 native broad-leaved trees like alder, mountain ash, birch and Scots pine.
Current work includes the excavation of a wildlife pond, the planting of wildflowers and bog plants, and the creation of a landscaped seating area for schoolchildren. The site is regularly used as an outdoor classroom and learning resource by local schools, for flora and fauna studies, as well as seed sowing and collection; it is also the focus of a joint scientific project between HMG and the North Manchester High School for Girls.
With the majority of its staff living locally, HMG feels that it is important to give something back to the community through this extensive riverside revitalisation project, added to which it emphasises the environmental role that paint itself plays in preserving timber, steel, masonry and other key materials. The scheme also forms part of two major community initiatives, the Irk Valley Project, spearheaded by Manchester City Council and Groundwork Manchester, and Red Rose Forest, backed by the Forestry Commission.
Commending HMG Paints on its latest environmental awards, David Barlow, the Irk Valley Project Officer says, "This award is richly deserved. HMG already plays an important part in the long term regeneration of the River Irk and its landscape. The work it has undertaken developing New Era Woods, for both local people and wildlife, should be highly commended."
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