">'); FoCUS » FEP


The Background

In November 2021, The Transport, Infrastructure, Bridges and Borders Sub-Group approved the FoCUS project to launching In December 2021. The project ties in with COP26. FEP is collaborating with the Forest of Dean Climate Action Group. with the goal of delivering pragmatic, effective, and beneficial actions for District businesses of all sizes.

Much has been spoken about climate change since the 1990’s. Some successes have been achieved but much appears to the business community to be hot air. Businesses struggle with the why, what and how of the role they can play. For the smallest businesses, it appears the least of their business issue particularly during a pandemic. Awareness needs to be increased of the pragmatic steps businesses can take that achieve the mutual goals of sustainability and profitability. The project will increase the understanding of whether district businesses are better or worse than the average in responding to this emergency and what might need to follow this initial one year programme.

The District Council, as with many UK Local, Regional and National public organisations, declared a climate emergency in December 2018. Since then steps have been put in place to create an environment for the District to respond and act on that emergency.

In early 2020 the Forest of Dean Climate Action group was formed following a public engagement process at the end of 2019. Since then an Interim Organising Group has been formed, consisting of representatives from the council, local community and business (including FEP). One of the outcomes from the organising group is creating effective engagement with Forest businesses to deliver a carbon neutral district by 2030.

FEP proposes to work collaboratively with FoDCA to deliver a single one year programme for businesses with a focus on action appropriate to size of business. Data from the 51 employers interviewed in the Transport survey showed that 38% of that sample had a sustainability and 20% carbon neutrality policy. But even these figures over-represent the understanding of the need because they are typically larger companies or in sectors where such policies are a requirement of contracts. ONS data shows there are 4090 businesses and 4520 business units in the district; there are only 75 with more than 50 employees. Small and micro business struggle to identify the business and profitability benefits of sustainability.

The Issue

To achieve Carbon Neutrality by 2030 all groups within the District to play their part. Whilst the District council has started work on their carbon footprint, and the planning team are looking at policy for a sustainable future, we need business to participate in the future. Whilst we recognise the need for business to act, we cannot act unilaterally, and we need to create a platform for businesses to form round, that will provide a real world benefit for action.

Issues Identified and Addressed

FoCUS relates to issues raised in the agreed FEP SWOT:



·       Natural beauty

·       Geographical location

·       Ecologically diverse

·       Attractive environment for children/families

·       Range of outdoor activities available

·       Diverse businesses

·       Tourism

·       Forestry Commission

·       Private land ownership

·       Strong cultural connection and pride

·       Strong local communities

·       Transport & infrastructure

·       Division between main settlements

·       Areas that ‘drop off’ planning radar (border areas such as Tidenham)

·       Sports/recreational facilities decreasing

·       Lack of variety of different types of business premises

·       Resistance to change/growth/development

·       Insular communities/thinking inside the box

·       Ingrained lack of aspiration

·       External perception of FoD



·       Bridge Toll abolished – people can live here for less, easier place for people to do business

·       Space for large developments

·       Natural resources to mitigate against climate change

·       Renewable energy potential/Tidal power

·       FoD has renewable resources to meet 186% of energy needs

·       Eco-tourism

·       Making the FoD a centre of excellence for Forestry/Forest products – fuel, construction

·       FEP – sharing good practice/joined up thinking/improved cross border relationships

·       Commercial relocation/inward investment opportunities

·       New mixed economy work-life balance achievable with new digital technology

·       Bridge toll abolished – pushing house prices up, more people commute outside of District, greater congestion in Chepstow

·       Too much development could destroy USP

·       Major businesses leaving the area

·       Lack of one dominant town/centre can inhibit external investment

·       Danger of not addressing issues of poor communication links, inward looking mentality, lack of investment in FoD

·       Young people leaving/more attractive lifestyles for young people outside of the Forest

·       Rising water levels and temperatures due to climate change


The FoCUS project will set up a programme to deliver Usable Climate and Sustainability support to Forest businesses.

The Action Group will be made up of:

  • FEP Representative
  • FOD Action Group Representative
  • Additional Members from the business community

FoCUS will create a climate charter framework that will be promoted through engagement events at the Mitcheldean Growth Hub.

Climate Charter Framework

The framework Climate Charter will deliver 3 levels

Level 1: Basic Thoughts (energy bills, fuel, behaviour) and commitment signatory (Behaviour encouraged: Headline to commitment)

  • What they get: Certificate and a window sticker, access to marketing tools.
  • Basic Data Analysis: A rough number baseline of a business’s CO2 emissions

Level 2: Developing: Accessing grants, services, further information, planning, Sustainability Assessment etc (Journey to understanding)

  • To be confirmed

Level 3: Superstars: Fully based-lined, measuring and acting (Auditable full measurement)

  • To be confirmed

Climate Charter Document: Creation of a progressive Forest of Dean District Business Climate Charter. The charter will commit organisations to:

  • Take action before committing.
  • Simply measure their carbon footprint (with help) to ensure appropriate scaled action.

Business Benefits

The concept is about allowing business and consumers to find climate committed businesses working in the Forest of Dean for the Forest of Dean. An example might be:

“Café uses a local bakery, local bakery get flour from a local mill, local mill gets grain from a local farmer

All are local signatories to the climate charter.”

A consumer might use the café, and also see the local bakery also committed to the same thing…

 Read more