Phil Voice's Posts (234)


£250 reward for information leading to the return of this pair of BRONZE OSTRICHES stolen from The Palm Centre in Richmond in late October.

Perhaps you have seen them in a garden somewhere?
They are 6ft/180cms tall, and quite unique.

If you have any information please contact Martin Gibbons in confidence on 07778 730 634 or 020 8404 0097

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Tweet for #NationalTreeWeek

Up to one million trees are planted each year as part of The Tree Council’s annual National Tree Week, taking place this year from 23rd November – 1st December. To celebrate trees and encourage planting and care, we will be coordinating a day of activity on Twitter. Alongside the Forestry Minister, Tree Council member organisations and tree champions, we will be highlighting the ways in which the public can get involved with all aspects of trees and woods, encouraging them to get outside and involved.

Every hour during the tweet-a-thon, from 9am-7pm on Wednesday 27th November, the public will be able to put questions to a different person who has a unique insight into trees and woods within the UK. From bat specialists to a celebrity woodsman, alongside technical experts and influential campaigning groups, this event will be a fascinating opportunity to learn more about our tree heritage and how we can play our part in getting more trees planted and looked after.

How to take part
To take part, members of the public should have a look at the timetable of events below and simply get online at the right time and start tweeting questions using #NationalTreeWeek to the relevant Twitter name. If you’re not sure who to direct your questions to, @TheTreeCouncil will point you in the right direction.

09:00-09:30 @TheTreeCouncil
Introduction to the day and how it will work. The Tree Council team will also be there to help direct you to the right person. Additionally, we’ll be encouraging the public to ask questions on the theme on this year’s National Tree Week, which is diversity, both of trees and within community engagement.

09:30 – 10:30 @TreesforCities
Heather McIntosh, Trees for Cities
Tree planting and care in urban spaces and how to volunteer for tree planting projects.

10:00 – 11:00 @AncientTreesATF
Vikki Bengtsson, Trustee, Ancient Tree Forum
Ancient tree care and management.

11:00-12:00 @ArbAssociation
Paul Smith, Technical Officer, Arboricultural Association
Sources of advice and expertise relating to technical tree issues, particularly the AA Arb Approved Contractor and Registered Consultant Schemes.

11:00 – 12:00 @FeraGovUK
David Slawson, Head of Plant Health Public Engagement, FERA
Pests and diseases affecting the UK’s trees and woodlands – what you can do to help.

12:00-13:00 @RobPennWildwood
Rob Penn, Author, journalist and presenter of 'Tales from the Wild Wood'.
His personal experience of managing a broadleaf woodland (as featured in BBC4 series ‘Tales from the Wild Wood’) and forthcoming book about the ash tree.

13:00- 14:00 @_BCT_
Helen Miller, Woodlands Officer, Bat Conservation Trust
The importance of trees as habitats for bats, with some unusual and interesting facts about bats and their use of trees and woodland!

14:00-15:00 @DefraGovUK
Forestry Minister Dan Rogerson MP
The public forest estate, tree planting including The Big Tree Plant and other aspects of his ministerial brief relating to trees.

15:00-16:00 @WoodlandTrust
Sharon Wennekers, Woodland Trust.
Tree diseases and their impact on the wider landscape, as well as the Woodland Trust’s current campaign for more funding for tree planting.

16:00-17:00 @CPRE 
Emma Marrington, Senior Rural Policy Campaigner, Campaign to Protect Rural England
Focus on hedgerows and their role in the English countryside, as well as wider CPRE campaigns.

16:00 – 17:00 @royal_forestry
Simon Lloyd, Development Director, Royal Forestry Society 
Making woods resilient to climate change, trees and pests; why it is important to manage a woodland and why Conifers are not just for Christmas.

17:00-18:00 @GrowninBritain
Dougal Driver, Chief Executive, Grown in Britain
Grown in Britain’s work developing a wood culture amongst the British public and getting our woods managed and more products bought.

17:00-18:00 @CLAtweets 
Mike Seville, Forestry and Woodland Advisor, Country Land & Business Association
Forestry issues and how they relate to private land owners, through their eyes.

18:00-19:00 @ForestryCommEng 
John Weir, Woodland Creation and Resilience, Forestry Commission England
Diversification of tree species and the effect of climate change on the UK’s trees and woodlands.

18:00-19:00 @TheTreeCouncil
Pauline Buchanan Black, Margaret Lipscombe and Jon Stokes, The Tree Council
How the public can get involved in our work, through volunteering, grants and campaigns.

For any enquiries about the tweet-a-thon, please contact Emma Prout on 020 7407 9992 /
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Sand lizards return to lounge at Farnham Heath

Today conservation groups came together to Give Nature a Home, reintroducing sand lizards to RSPB Farnham Heath nature reserve.

Following on from an initial reintroduction in 2012, and as part of a three year project between the RSPB, Amphibian & Reptile Conservation (ARC) and Natural England, sand lizards will once again be released onto Surrey heathland this week.

This will be the second of three annual releases of local captive bred lizards. Juveniles are released in early September to allow the animals to gradually get used to the site before hibernation in October. On average c.50 captive-bred juveniles are released each year which is sufficient to establish a structured population.

Mike Coates, the RSPB site manager for Farnham Heath said: “Sand lizards are one of the iconic heathland species. This re-introduction programme will put them back where they belong, here on the reserve– this work really sums up our ‘Giving Nature a Home’ campaign in action”.

Due to vast habitat losses across the UK, sand lizards now only occur naturally in Surrey and Dorset where it lives on sandy heathland, and further north in Merseyside where it is confined to coastal sand dune systems.

Sand lizards are believed to have been lost from the Farnham Heath site when the land was planted up with a commercial conifer crop after the Second World War.

Since 2004 the RSPB has restored over 70 ha of heathland at Farnham Heath and management of the site, such as using livestock for grazing and creating sunny open areas, is benefitting a range of wildlife.

Field crickets were heard singing on the reserve over the summer, the result of another successful reintroduction programme. And rare heathland birds such as woodlarks, tree pipits and nightjars are also returning thanks to the work being carried out.

As part of the wider project c.400 captive bred sand lizards will be released at 7 sites in England and Wales.

Jonathan Webster, ARC Chair of Trustees said "We are delighted with the success of the sand lizard re-introduction programme. So far the partnerships have instigated 74 re-introductions to both dune and heathland sites in 12 vice-counties and restored the species to 7 of these. 80% of these have been successful or going well and more are planned for the future."

Ongoing surveys by trained site staff, volunteers and Amphibian & Reptile Groups of the UK will help to monitor and assess how the species is doing in the long term and identify when they start to colonise new areas.

Sand lizards are active from late March through to late October; with the males emerge from hibernation first followed by younger animals then females.

Mike Coates added: “During the breeding season the male's sides turn almost completely bright green. They are spectacular animals, like living jewels down amongst the heather.

They should thrive here at Farnham Heath, and we hope that in a couple of years visitors might be able to glimpse these wonderful creatures basking beside the paths.”

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Marshalls Plc: Trading update

Trading Performance

Marshalls' revenue from continuing operations for the nineteen weeks ended 10 May 2013 was £103 million (2012: £109 million), a decrease of 6 per cent. Underlying activity was in line with expectations but the delay in the normal seasonal upturn due to adverse working conditions, including the coldest March since 1910, reduced revenue in the period. Order intake has recovered strongly since the middle of April to offset the shortfall and the programme of cost reduction and cash realisation measures, instigated in 2012, continues to deliver positive results.

In addition to the Group revenue from continuing operations, the quarries and associated aggregate businesses, sold on 30 April 2013, had revenues of £3 million (2012: £3 million) in the period. This will be treated as a discontinued operation.

Sales to the Public Sector and Commercial end market, which represent approximately 65 per cent of Marshalls' sales, were down 6 per cent on a continuing basis. The Group continues to devote resources to its sales effort and is pleased to announce that it has recently secured a contract to supply stone cladding to a significant project in the City of London that is expected to generate sales in excess of £5 million over the next two years.

Sales to the Domestic end market, which represent approximately 30 per cent of Group sales, were down 8 per cent. Encouragingly, the survey of domestic installers at the end of April 2013 revealed order books of 8.5 weeks (2012: 7.5 weeks) up from 7.8 weeks at the end of February 2013 (2012: 6.3 weeks).

Continued progress has been made in developing the International business, with revenue to date in 2013 increasing by 7 per cent and representing 5 per cent of Group sales.

On 30 April 2013 the Group received cash consideration of £17.5 million from its sale of quarries and associated aggregate businesses to Breedon Aggregates England Limited. This has further helped reduce net debt which at the end of April 2013 was £28 million lower than at the same stage in 2012. The Group is on course to improve on its target of achieving a net debt to EBITDA ratio of 2 times by the end of 2013.


The Construction Products Association is currently forecasting a reduction in UK market volumes in 2013 of 2.1 per cent with the majority of this reduction in the first quarter. For 2014 and 2015 the forecast is for growth of 1.9 per cent and 3.9 per cent respectively.

Marshalls has built increased financial and operational flexibility into its business model and remains focused on product innovation and a range of initiatives to deliver sales growth and improve trading margins. There is no change in expectations for the current year and the Group continues to be well placed to benefit as market conditions improve.

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Tulip tree's genome is 'molecular fossil'

The "extraordinary level of conservation" of genetic data in the tulip tree remains largely unchanged since the dinosaurs, a study suggests.

The species' genomic change is about 2,000 times slower than in humans, making it a "molecular fossil", a team of US researchers said.

The new information has affected our understanding of flowering plants' evolution, they added.

The findings have been published in the open access journal BMC Biology.

The team from the universities of Indiana and Arkansas sequenced the mitochondrial genome of the species (Liriodendron tulipifera), only to discover it had one of the slowest silent mutation rates (a process that does not affect gene function).

They added that the sequencing showed that many of the genes that had been lost during 200 million years of flowering plants' (angiosperms) evolution had been preserved.

"Based on this, it appears that the genome has been more-or-less frozen in time for millions and millions of years," explained co-author Prof Jeffrey Palmer.

Continue reading Tulip tree's genome is 'molecular fossil'

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The Chelsea International Flower Show 2013 has been cancelled do to poor Easter weather, say organisers. The event will now take place in September.

Event organisers are hurriedly making plans to ensure that all participants have enough time to save their plants.

The advice being given is to put all plants into a dark room without water or light to stop them flowering early.

"This method is the only one we know that will ensure that all living matter will be retarded enough to stop buds and leaves opening" advised a Chelsea spokesman.

"We are so disappointed as this is our hundredth year" she continues, "but at the moment the show area is under two feet of snow and only yesterday, two Chelsea Pensioners were reported missing after they went for a stroll in the gardens".

Organisers hope the weather will be fairer in September and hopes everyone understands.

Alan Titchmarsh has been stood down for the foreseeable future.

UPDATE: The Chelsea in-shore lifeboat and helicopter rescue located the two Chelsea Pensioners clinging to rocks in the rock garden and they are now safely back sipping Gin.

See you in September!

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Niche communities are a strong business tool

I work with social media every single day.

Although I've had to make a conscious effort to remove myself from in front of the computer screen due to overload, even my weekends are spattered with a touch of social interactivity in some shape or form.

Even if I leave the house to go into town or partake in some other activity it's very rare I'm without my web enabled mobile (or should that be smartphone?).

Today's web and media savvy people (and that isn't just youngsters) seem to be increasingly at one with their mobile device and probably less so with their desktop machine.

There are some people who feel the blog is, as a medium, dead, like this blogger here.

To a certain extend I agree but there are still opportunities to make blog articles stick if you remain creative and use the right tools.

Continue reading Niche communities are a strong business tool

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The United Kingdom Accreditation Service (UKAS) has accredited the first validation/verification bodies for Woodland Carbon Code (WCC) projects.

The WCC was launched in July 2011 to help give credibility to woodland creation schemes which are specifically aimed at carbon sequestration. The first two bodies to be granted UKAS accreditation under ISO 14065 to audit woodland creation schemes for the WCC are Scottish Food Quality Certification Ltd (SFQC) and SGS UK Ltd.

Welcoming the announcement of the accreditations, Tim Rollinson, Director-General of the Forestry Commission, said, “One of the most popular ways of compensating for carbon emissions is to plant trees, which capture or ‘sequester’ carbon, taking it out of the atmosphere.

However, the validity of some previous schemes has been questioned: are the right varieties of trees being planted? How long before they are cut down? Or do they even exist at all? The detailedrequirements of the WCC, supported by rigorous assessments which come with UKAS accreditation of the assessors, or auditors, will help to deliver confidence in the integrity and effectiveness of woodland creation projects in the UK which make claims about carbon capture.”

The WCC requires full details of the types and areas of woodland to be created at a particular location, and about how they will be managed. It specifies how the amount of carbon sequestered should be predicted and measured, as well as making allowances for events such as fire or disease.

There is a particular emphasis on “additionality”, a concept which seeks to ensure that the trees would not just have been planted in any event. Developers of woodland creation projects for certification against the WCC are able to register with the Forestry Commission. The details will be publicly available so that carbon sequestration claims can be verified. The validation/verification bodies will check that the claims made by the woodland creation project proposers comply with the WCC.

Janet Gascoigne, Accreditation Manager, Development at UKAS said. “The granting of the first two accreditations to this new standard is a key step towards both business and the public being able to recognise, understand and trust what carbon capturing schemes can do for them. It also provides another example of the effectiveness of accreditation as an alternative to regulation, not just in the environmental field but across a wide variety of industry sectors.”

As the UK’s National Accreditation Body, UKAS’s role within the scheme is to accredit validation/verification bodies to the requirements of the standard ISO 14065. The scheme is now open to other applicant validation/verification bodies following the successful completion of the pilot project with SGS and SFQC.

For details on how to become an accredited verification body please visit the UKAS website

For further information on UKAS and accredited organisations please visit

For more information on the WCC please visit


The United Kingdom Accreditation Service (UKAS) is the sole national body recognised by government
to assess evaluating organisations to international standards. UKAS operates under a Memorandum of
Understanding (MoU) with the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS), and is a non-profit-
distributing company limited by guarantee. UKAS accreditation involves assessment and verification (against
international standards) of certification, inspection, testing and calibration services. UKAS employs over 300
assessors and technical experts, and has over 40 years’ experience. For further information about UKAS visit:

Woodland Carbon Code

  1. Carbon dioxide (CO2) is the most common of the greenhouse gases causing the atmospheric warmin
  2. which is changing Earth’s climate. Growing trees sequester, or absorb, CO 2 from the atmosphere, and use
  3. carbon atoms to form wood while emitting oxygen back to the atmosphere.
  4. Projects can only be validated/verified under the Woodland Carbon Code if they meet its rigorous requirements for sound forest management, sustainability and carbon ‘accounting’. It uses independent validation/verification companies approved, or accredited, by the United Kingdom Accreditation Service (UKAS) to audit project proposals.
  5. ‘Registration’ of a proposed planting project under the Code is the first step towards ‘validation’ and ‘verification’. Once registered, the proposal is audited against the standards set down by the Code, and if it satisfies the requirements it is ‘validated’ under the Code. Projects must subsequently be ‘verified’ at least every 10 years to check that targets are being met.
  6. Certification provides evidence of the quality of the proposal, not only in carbon terms, but also in sustainable forest management terms, and is critical for attracting investors. Woodland established under the Code must attain high standards of forest management in line with the UK Forestry Standard (UKFS) and Climate Change Guidelines for forestry. The UKFS sets out the government vision of sustainable forest management, and is the ‘yardstick’ used by all four governments in the UK when assessing applications for forestry grants, tree felling licences and approvals of forest design plans. About 13 per cent of the UK’s land area is covered by woodland, which is more than double the woodland cover of 100 years ago. The European Union average is 37 per cent.

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SweepEx brush attachment

Reduced labour costs, no moving parts and time saving are just three attributes enjoyed by users of the SweepEx modular brush system. Whatever you need to sweep, a SweepEx brush is quickly attached to the host vehicle, be it a tractor, forklift, telehandler or skidsteer and you have a simple yet highly effective sweeping solution.

Now there’s a new addition to the SweepEx range, the MegaMax ‘C-broom’, which incorporates all the benefits of the unique push broom while providing you with a bulk volume mover. One day it will be working shifting large quantities of grain in a grain store, the next it can be clearing big volumes of slurry.

What’s different about the MegaMax is that it is a heavy-duty push broom with patented side retainers that hold bulk volumes of material in front of the brush, avoiding spillage at the sides. That in itself represents a major time-saving operation in addition to the fact that the brush is mounted to the host vehicle in seconds.

There’s no need to spend time going over swept areas to clear spill lines and the end brushes are also carefully twisted so they pull material away from a wall or curb, keeping it in the main path of the broom. No motor, belts or chains and no flying debris, the MegaMax is safe and maintenance free, with hard wearing brushes designed to sweep up to 450 miles before the bristles need changing.

That’s a lot of sweeping, tackling bulky materials with ease and offering a ‘squeegee’ effect on wet surfaces too. The MegaMax is available in 1.5m, 1.8m and 2.4m widths and whilst it is ideal for livestock yards and grainstores it is equally as effective for a whole range of uses around the farm, in landscape maintenance, warehouse and distribution sites, snow clearance and much more.

Broadwood International 01420 478111

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Marshalls announce new products for 2013

Marshalls have announced a number of new additions to their product range available to homeowners in 2013.

The Cobbletech driveway system is designed to give a natural authentic cobble look to a driveway or courtyard and is equally at home in a contemporary setting.

Not only does Cobbletech provide a stunning driveway option for the householder but with its innovative block design and fast point jointing solution, supplied with the block, it offers the installer an amazingly quick and effortless installation with built in durability. And if this wasn’t enough the system can be laid in all weathers, meaning that when the rain starts installers do not have to stop. Marshalls strongly recommends that the Cobbletech system is fitted by its trained Marshalls Register Members.

You can find an installer near you by call 0845 820 5000 or visit to receive a free no obligation quotation.

Marshalls has also introduced a number of new ethically sourced natural stone options to enhance its Fairstone range; including new Linear Sawn Sandstone Planks and Fairstone Flamed with a softly textured surface, yet practical non-slip finish.

For a clean, modern look in the garden the new Perfecta smooth paving with its visible aggregates and smooth finish offers the look of polished natural stone at a fraction of the cost, and new colourways in the Fairstone Limestone, Drivesett 50 & Drivesett Natrale ranges further enhance the expansive range of landscaping choices the installer can offer the customers.

Marshalls Delivers
Marshalls product offer is designed to not only fulfil the very latest consumer demand but always with the merchant and installer in mind. Marshalls recognises the importance to the installer of having products delivered exactly when they’re needed, and to the merchant of never turning away a customer order. Via a national network of service centres Marshalls can reach 95% of UK builder’s merchants within a two hour drive time and with a number of delivery options, including a next day delivery service on a large range of domestic items, products are never far away, even if not currently in stock in your chosen merchant branch.

Further information is available in the Marshalls 2013 New Products Brochure, to order a copy visit or call 0845 820 5000.

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Chris Harrop, group marketing director, responsible for sustainability, at Marshalls plc. has been appointed Chair of the United Nations Global Compact (UNGC) UK Network. Said Harrop, “I am extremely honoured and excited to take up this important post within the UNGC. I’m passionate about the role that the private sector has to play in sustainable development. I’ve found through experience that the UNGC offers a framework, like no other, which enables companies to address the complex issues of sustainability, supports them on their journey, provides intelligent challenge, first class education and ahead-of-the-wave debate and information. The UNGC’s principles in relation to human rights, labour, environment and anti-corruption, together with its Communication on Progress reporting provide an excellent framework for driving change within organisations and embedding sustainable practice.” He added, “Marshalls’ relentless commitment to sustainability in all aspects it is business activities has enabled me to develop my own understanding, push the boundaries and has ultimately enabled me to take up this opportunity with the UNGC, for which I’m most grateful.” Under Harrop’s direction Marshalls became a signatory of the United Nations Global Compact in 2009. The impact of his work spans both corporate and product sustainability in the UK and overseas; from reducing Marshalls’ environmental impact, being the first in the world at the time to carbon footprint over 3500 products, developing products which alleviate flood risks, driving a programme of human rights impact assessments, ethicising the supply chains, delivering the first ethical stone product range to market, and working with a range of actors overseas to improve working conditions and provide community programmes in India, China and Vietnam, including workers’ rights education, pay and conditions, women’s empowerment and health programmes. Graham Holden, Marshalls CEO, commented, “Chris has worked long and hard to develop the sustainability agenda within Marshalls and to drive positive change within the organisation and throughout the wider landscaping sector. I’m delighted that his passion and drive have been harnessed by UNGC in this way. I am sure that Chris’s positive impact will be keenly felt within the UNGC UK Network.” Outgoing chair, Andrew Cave, head of sustainability at RBS said, “I’m delighted to hand over the baton to Chris and am confident that under his leadership the UNGC UK Network will continue to grow and to lead the way.” Harrop was also recently was presented with a “Game Changer” Award by BITC, an accolade which recognises and celebrates the critical role that individual from business play in driving forward the responsible business movement. This award honours professionals that have been most influential and transformed the responsible business agenda over the last thirty years. Harrop concluded, “I count myself very fortunate to be in a position to take up this role with UNGC. I relish to opportunity to further influence and drive the sustainability agenda and to shift corporate sustainability from niche to mainstream.” ENDS Elaine Mitchel-Hill E: or M: 07792 935 425
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The compost manufacturer and horticultural sundries business, East Horticulture and wholesale plant supplier, Wyevale East Nurseries are merging to form a new business - Provender Nurseries which will be launched in the New Year. 

The announcement follows the acquisition of Wyevale Nurseries’ shares of Wyevale East Nurseries by Richard East, owner of East Horticulture and the site at Swanley. 

After nine years of running two separate businesses on the same site, Provender Nurseries will seek to provide a more unified service to customers by offering a wide range of high quality plants complemented by horticultural sundries and hard landscape products.

Richard East said: “Wyevale Nurseries has worked with us through our infancy as a joint venture partner and I am grateful for their support over the years.  This is a natural progression for the businesses and I am confident that under the leadership of Richard McKenna, to be appointed Managing Director of Provender Nurseries, we will be able to deliver an ever-expanding range of products to meet the needs of our customers.”

Richard McKenna, currently Managing Director of Wyevale East Nurseries, added: “I’m delighted to be launching Provender Nurseries and excited to support customers by providing so much more for them under one roof.  My team is fully behind this major development and we’re looking forward to growing the business and the site in the months and years to come.”

Provender Nurseries will start trading on 2 January 2013.


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Chris Harrop, Marshalls’ group marketing director, responsible for sustainability, has been awarded a prestigious BITC’s Game Changer accolade.

In this its 30th year of campaigning on responsible business issues, BITC has launched a one-off Game Changers accolade to recognise and celebrate the critical role that individual from business have played in driving forward the responsible business movement. This award honours 123 professionals that have been most influential and transformed the responsible business agenda over the last thirty years.

Stephen Howard, Chief Executive at BITC said, “We are delighted to be able to recognise some of the brightest stars in corporate responsibility through our Game Changers award. As a campaigning membership organisation we are dependent on individuals from business to help us drive the agenda.

Without the energy and passion of Game Changers like Chris I doubt very much if the UK responsible business movement would be quite so mature. They truly deserve this recognition which I hope will act as an inspiration to others.”

Graham Holden, Marshalls Chief Executive commented, “Chris has worked long and hard to develop the sustainability agenda within Marshalls and to drive positive change within the organisation and throughout the wider landscaping sector. I’m delighted that his passion and drive have been recognised by BITC in this very public way. Under Chris’s guidance, Marshalls really is delivering on its promise of “Creating Better Landscapes”, socially, environmentally and economically.”

Under Harrop’s direction Marshalls became a member of BITC in 2007 and his pioneering spirit and vision saw the Company become a signatory of the United Nations Global Compact in 2009.

The impact of his work spans both corporate and product sustainability in the UK and overseas; from reducing Marshalls’ environmental impact, being the first in the world at the time to carbon footprint over 3500 products, developing products which alleviate flood risks, driving a programme of human rights impact assessments, ethicising the supply chains, delivering the first ethical stone product range to market, and working with a range of actors overseas to improve working conditions and provide community programmes in India, China and Vietnam, including combating child labour, workers’ rights, education, pay and conditions, women’s empowerment and health programmes.

Says Harrop, “It’s fantastic that this Game Changer Award acknowledges and recognises the individuals who continually push the boundaries and challenge their organisations to do more. I count myself very fortunate to be in a position to influence and drive the sustainability agenda and to work within my areas of influence to shift corporate responsibility from niche to mainstream.

There is much still to be done, but it really is great to take a moment to recognise the contribution that I’ve been able to make. It’s really very satisfying to have this acknowledgement from BITC for my contribution in the field of responsible business.”

Marshalls most recent 2011 UNGC Communication on Progress COP’s details the
sustainability and responsible business agenda that has been delivered under Chris
Harrop’s direction and can be viewed at

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Priora permeable paving system review

Marshalls has announced the findings of a major project undertaken in collaboration with world renowned engineer Professor John Knapton, to review their market leading Priora permeable paving system. 

Marshalls Priora is a SUDs solution which keeps paved areas clear of standing water without the need for complicated and expensive drainage systems – all the while providing an attractive, hard wearing surface suitable for any loading requirement. In addition, the Priora system cleanses water that flows through the structure and returns it straight back to the water table at source. 

After 10 years of in situ experience with a zero failure rate, Marshalls embarked on a major study to ensure that the design advice offered was still up to date and relevant for modern applications. It employed a combination of laboratory test results, finite element analysis and Professor Knapton’s worldwide experience to arrive at a series of results. The findings have lead to a new series of design models which ensure best possible practice, reduce costs, provide environmental benefits, and truly reflect the requirements of today’s customers. 

Marshalls’ new series of 9 sub base design models now provide more flexibility to clients than the 6 offered by the British Standard; the new models have been developed to reflect modern requirements, allowing a closer link between the required application and the level of recommended design. From light to heavily trafficked applications, and now including a heavy duty ports and docks option for static loads, the new models offer a more flexible approach than ever before. The Marshalls expert design team can now be even more prescriptive in their advice, and in the majority of cases, help to drive cost from the pavement structure. 

Research was also carried out into the patented design of the Priora nib; 6 nibs per block each feature 8 separate faces which interlock in 3 different directions. This unique combination maximises rotational interlock between blocks – a feature which has been proven to reduce pressure on the sub base. Priora is the only permeable paving block on the market to demonstrate full rotational interlock through full scale testing, therefore providing clients with the confidence that they have a permeable paving system which will perform. 

This rotational interlock enhances surface stiffness. Crucially, understanding this feature has allowed Marshalls to review and enhance the design of the sub base below a Priora pavement. The majority of new revised designs, which cater for all ground conditions, require shallower depths than Marshalls previous recommendations, therefore reducing costs and minimising time on site. By reducing the required amount of imported aggregate and, in excavation jobs, waste off site, the new options also offer enhanced environmental benefits – while still providing the required levels of hydraulic performance. 

Chris Griffiths, Marshalls Water Management expert, said: “We worked with Professor Knapton on our initial Priora system design 10 years ago. Our own understanding of the technology has increased enormously since then, and this, combined with Professor Knapton’s worldwide experience, has given us a solid foundation from which to investigate new design methods. 

“Marshalls Priora is the market leading permeable solution in the UK; in fact, since its launch Marshalls has sold enough Priora to pave nearly 500 football pitches, and enough water flows through these installations to fill over 1,100 Olympic sized swimming pools every year. However, we don’t believe in resting on our laurels and so we’re always seeking ways to improve our products and their performance. 

“As the pending national SUDs standards seem to be preoccupied with the cost of installing a sustainable drainage system, it’s great that these new design models make a Marshalls Priora installation more cost effective than ever before.” 

Professor Knapton said: “It’s been really interesting investigating why Marshalls Priora has performed so well over the past 10 years. Once we understood the rotational interlock advantage provided by the unique nib, it gave us the confidence to revise my initial design models which Marshalls have been using. The result is a new series of dependable, value-engineered models which truly reflect modern usage.” 

For more information on Marshalls Priora, the product review, or issues surrounding water management, please visit or call Chris Griffiths on 01422 312083.

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First of all I must start this book review with an apology to the author.

It was November 2011 when I was asked if I'd like a copy of An Introduction to Landscape to reviewfor Landscape Juice and it's sat on my desk ever since. A +300 page paperback written by a career academic, it's not light reading and I was dreading wading through.

Although sometimes too heavy going and more suited to the academic serious reader, I found just reading the intro had me deep in thought and challenging the author's views.

Landscape's a complicated subject

It soon became clear that the word Landscape doesn't define a single subject (but I think I really already knew that as it's often been a topic of discussion on Landscape Juice).

Peter Howard, even tries to explain that it's the reader's job, and not his as author to determine what landscape really is and says "I cannot even promise that you will learn what 'landscape' is, although you will be given some of the arguments and elements that might allow you to answer the question for yourself. At the very beginning we cannot assume very much more than 'landscape is out of doors".

It's just page one and I'm being stimulated and challenged - Peter Howard does say in the intro that his aim is to make me learn more about myself and my attitude to landscape - in my accepted concept of what a landscape is.

Howard says: "The view from my back window looks out across Dartmoor in the distance and this is much more "landscape" than the view from my front window to the road and the garage next door".

No it isn't, I hear myself say! Surely the word landscape applies equally to both scenes but what differentiates them is that in one the landscape is naturally appealing and stretched as far as the eye can see and the other is local and more of an architectural landscape?

But it suddenly becomes clearer. Howard reminds the reader that landscape isn't a single discipline and not at all rational and then he hits the nail on the head by saying it's 'intensely personal', adding, '[landscape] reflects our own history'.

I'm only into page two of the intro and my thoughts and emotions are already all over the place. There's part of me thinking that Howard is deliberately winding me up and there's another part intensely questioning my previous approval of what I considered a landscape.

"Landscape is not very rational. It is intensely personal and reflects our own history, our own nationality and culture, our personal likes and dislikes. It is always about 'my place', or at least somebody's place."

What does this mean? I'm currently in France so when I look out of my window, or walk in the open landscape, am I seeing history in the sense that I planted that tree or laid that patio therefore that is my personal landscape? It is certainly influenced by my personality and likes and I might also have a desire to personalise it further by replicating a part of England that I'd left behind.

I can understand if I'd influenced the landscape mechanically but if I were to imagine Roman soldiers marching down the chemin. The landscape might be thousands of years old and largely unchanged but I'm but a mere time traveller also passing through. I've not impacted on it nor has it been part of my culture or history...yet to me it's still a landscape.

It's not conventional thinking

I guess what the Peter Howard has done right from the off is make me realise that there's a convention in the sense that all latter day - especially from a commercial landscaper's perspective - landscaping is conceptual, designed and then built to specification.

What I am finding is that Howard makes me consider further the instances of contrived design that seemlessly connect with natural landscape. 

Howard isn't wrong when he says that "The biggest problem with landscape is that it means so many different things to so many different people".

The early part of the book talks about how cultural landscape is influenced by geographical landscape - I guess in a sense Howard is saying that events, fetés and ceremonies, for example, may have only evolved because of a physical place where people have historically gathered.

One example springs to mind; Stonehenge is just a lightly undulating landscape grazed by sheep until the stones and their presence is considered. Because the henge has been a place of gathering and ritual for thousands of years it has become more than just geographical landscape: it's become intertwined and partially defined by its cultural connection to the landscape.

Connecting landscape architecture with landscape design

The book asks of me a question in a subliminal manner.

Howard talks about how town and city landscapes have evolved outward often without a cohesive town plan.

Previous to reading the book I might have thought that the buildings defined the landscape because they came first. The landscape, i.e. the gardens, parks, trees and roads were accidentally defined because they were what remained of the space where no buildings stood. But it seems as though a town development is defined partly by its cultural development.

I think, partly, what Howard is saying is that where, for example, an historical footpath or route existed, say for hundreds of years, that it has not only become physical development and landscape boundary but also a cultural landscape legacy which defined where the next part of the landscape jigsaw goes: be that in terms of a solid building, a tree or a soft landscaped space.

How Ashgate Publishing describes An Introduction to Landscape by Peter J Howard:

Inspiring deep emotion, landscape carries many meanings. This book follows the development of several threads of the concept of landscape as they have evolved across disciplines and across countries, leading to the European Landscape Convention and the designation of cultural landscapes as World Heritage Sites.

The book introduces the key notions of landscape, such as landscape as meaning, as picture, as scale, as scenery and as place. It also considers the various factors which influence the way in which landscape is perceived now and in the past, with all of the senses. Finally, it looks of the various ways of protecting, managing and enhancing the landscape, taking into account a future of climate change. 

Beautifully illustrated and including 'capsules' in each section which provide fascinating insights into subjects from reading pictures, to mapping and GIS, through a discussion of the range of types of landscape to issues such as eco-museums, this book provides an excellent introductory overview for any students with an interest in the landscape around us. 

I have to say I do like the black and white photos. In a sense I feel it's how our memory stores images. A kind or sepia tinted effect - maybe too nostalgic at times but it works.

About the Author: Peter Howard is a geographer who studied at Newcastle and later at Exeter. He taught landscape ideas to students of art and design, and later ran degree courses in landscape and heritage, at Plymouth University. He is now Visiting Professor of Cultural Landscapes at Bournemouth, and is editor of the Landscape Research journal.

Comment: I have not finished the book as yet..I think, for me at least, it's the kind of read I will sometimes tackle sporadically and not necessarily the order its written. But the book helps you do this; what helps in this process is the addition of capsules that are individually defined, thus giving the reader the feeling that it's OK to meander and not follow a set agenda.

If you've read the book (or part of it) and you'd like to add comment about your findings or understanding 9or not) of what the author has tried to do then please feel free to join in.

An Introduction to Landscape is written by Peter J Howard and is published by Ashgate Publications priced £25.00.

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Staff at a Mansfield landscaping firm are celebrating after winning a regional award for their hard work.

Weedfree Landscapes Ltd, based on Westfield Lane, are well-known landscape and grounds specialists which have been serving the Mansfield district and the East Midlands region for around 20 years.

They recently received a best new member award at Marshalls UK regional awards in Leicester after their job, which involved levelling a private homeowner’s garden, impressed a panel of judges.

Tim Bower, managing director of the family run business, says he was pleased to win the award and says the honour has boosted staff morale.

“We did not really expect to win the award, the standard was extremely high but to be judged the best was fantastic,” he said.

“Staff were really pleased that we won, now some of the lads are coming up with ideas on how to make things that bit better.

“The job involved a garden on a slope and it was quite a complicated job and involved a lot of communication with the customer but they were very pleased with the end result.”

The company works on a range of commercial, domestic and public sector clients including projects for schools, universities and hospitals

“The award has made a big difference, it’s a bit of extra insurance for customers, they trust what you are telling them a bit more,”added Tim, who has worked at the business for 10 years and recently took charge from his father.

“We’re already looking at what we can improve for other jobs which we have.

“No matter where you are or how many sites you have, Weedfree landscapes always have a specialised team to meet your requirements.”

l For more information on Weedfree Landscapes Ltd visit

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