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business in the community
26 April 2024
Green Economy

International Earth Day sees Openreach Flying High with RSPB

Openreach has teamed up with the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB), in a new Business Conservation Partnership, as part of its drive to become a more sustainable business.

The new partnership, which coincided with International Earth Day, will see Europe’s largest conservation charity sharing best practice and expertise with the UK’s largest wholesale broadband provider bringing benefits to natural habitats and local environments across the country.

As part of the collaboration, Openreach will work closely with the RSPB to make sure that the expansion and maintenance of its new, ultrafast Full Fibre network is conducted with the utmost consideration for wildlife habitats and environmental conservation.

By integrating more environmental considerations into network planning, building and maintenance Openreach aims to minimise its impact on ecosystems while delivering reliable and high-speed connectivity to communities throughout the British Isles.

Openreach Head of Sustainability, Abby Chicken, explains:

“Few businesses range as far and as wide as Openreach in the UK. Our engineers are out there every day building a new network that will keep us connected for generations to come. Everywhere we work we engage with nature, and while we always aim to protect and enhance the natural habitats we encounter, we know there’s more that we can do.

“We’re excited to be joining forces with the RSPB as we’ll be able to benefit from their huge wealth of expertise. From providing risk assessments to help minimise our impact on the environment when planning new network routes to specialist technical advice on emerging issues such as bats roosting in our buildings estate. We look forward to working closely with the RSPB to help us continue to be a responsible and sustainable business.”

“We’re building the best possible Full Fibre network. Building it sustainably is the right thing to do for our business, the communities we serve, and the environment we all share.”

The new partnership forms part of Openreach’s wider commitment to become a greener business including lowering its carbon emissions, reducing and better managing its waste, minimising its disturbance to natural habitats and, moving towards becoming nature positive.

Building on our existing relationship

Both organisations have already worked together with Openreach supporting the RSPB to upgrade the digital connectivity at some of their most remote locations, helping the organisation with everything from mission-critical conservation projects to taking contactless payments in their gift shops and cafes.

Welcoming the new Business Conservation Partnership RSPB Senior Business Conservation Adviser, Charlotte Martin-Taylor, said “Businesses can make a difference in helping to bring back nature.  We are really excited to be working with Openreach in a new business conservation partnership to help deliver their Nature Positive strategy in which people and the planet thrive, minimising risks to the environment whilst also looking for conservation opportunities across a far-reaching network.

“This is a unique opportunity for the RSPB because Openreach is the industry leader and major sector influencer. It’s important for the RSPB to help businesses, like Openreach, succeed in becoming a responsible and sustainable business, not just for us but for the incredible nature and communities around us.”

About sustainability at Openreach

Openreach has three specific green objectives:

  1. to reduce its carbon footprint
  2. to use fewer materials and reduce waste and
  3. to minimise disturbance to all natural habitats it encounters whilst looking for conservation opportunities.

Taken together, they represent the holistic approach needed to fulfil its ambition of building and maintaining the UK largest digital infrastructure sustainably.

In order to meet its green targets Openreach has committed to a series of actions  including:

  • Lowering emissions by becoming net zero by 2031 through a combination of converting it’s 28,000 fleet to zero emissions, using AI to optimise engineers’ schedules and routes so less energy is used and ensuring carbon reduction is a key element of supplier contracts
  • Using less and wasting less by continuously assessing how we can use our materials in ways that make them last longer and prevent them going to landfill while recovering and recycling of our old copper network as we replace with our Full Fibre network.
  • Becoming nature positive by seeking new ways of working to ensure that our operations not only minimise ecological and environmental impacts, but also looking for opportunities to drive better outcomes for nature. We aim to deliver this through our partnership with the RSPB, ensuring that industry best practice is being followed and our engineers are upskilled to conduct nature assessments of the sites they visit. If they encounter wildlife, they have strict protocols for ensuring that this is protected, including being able to contact environment experts for advice.

To find out more about how Openreach is going to reach net zero visit Openreach | Sustainability 

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