Boyne Valley Activities are aware of the impacts left on our environment and continue to try to reduce these impacts on both a personal and business level.
Working primarily on and around a Special Area of Conservation (SAC) and Special Protection Area (SPA) we must be sure we don’t harm the biodiversity of the area.
Measures taken throughout our companies Eco-Tourism policies will help reduce our impact wherever possible on the environment. Strict waste management and energy management plans from our premises will reduce our footprint, but our main concern is the human impact on the wildlife and biodiversity of the area, though by implementing strict Leave No Trace principles on our activities we endeavour to keep all impacts to a minimal.
Appropriate minimal impact codes
Our minimal impact codes are 1) Leave no Trace 2) Minimal Impact Canoeing and 3) Eco-driving.
Environmental Sustainable Management Systems
Use of Energy:
At present all power in the building is supplied by mains power, for now, we don’t have access to the utility bill as our landlord gets the bill for the whole premises and we just pay ours through our rent, though we are looking at getting this changed to Airtricity if possible, energy usage is minimal as only the office, changing rooms and reception area have fluorescent tubes and they are being changed to CFL type. The back paintball area has low wattage (11 watt CFL) energy-saving bulbs. Heating in the main building is run on gas in the winter and not required in summer. All windows in the building are double glazed. The main office is our biggest draw on power where we have an electric heater running in the winter, though this only 1 kilowatt and we are currently insulating the walls and ceilings and already we have noticed changes. We air dry all our wetsuits and equipment outside in summer and are in the process of erecting a lean too in the winter, which will reduce the use of energy or installing a heating system for it.
Creation of Waste:
All our waste is separated into recycling bins on our premises, plastics, cardboard etc. All recycling is then taken to the recycling centre on a weekly basis. Food waste goes in the food bin and is collected at the premises each Tuesday by a local refuse collector, in the next few weeks we hope to erect a composter for food waste and we take back all our visitors waste for recycling when we take back our equipment, the various put in and get out points have refuse facilities.
Use of Water:
Our premises are run off the local Town supply and will shortly be run off a meter. The nature of our business means we use quite a lot of water to wash wetsuits etc, however, because we have a big roof area, we have already purchased two 1000ltr tanks to harness roof water in order to wash equipment and intend on collecting, using and storing as much runoff water as possible to wash equipment and to use for toilets etc. This will be an ongoing project in 2014
Use of detergents/disinfectants:
All detergents and disinfectants on the premises are purchased from our suppliers’ ecolabel (Ecover) range of environmental cleaning products. All our equipment is washed with eco detergents and is fully biodegradable.
Impact on wildlife/biodiversity:
We seldom get onto the water at our premises as we prefer to exit off there as there is a concrete plinth at our slipway that exit there onto a concrete plinth we can use without eroding the bank, especially with bigger groups. We also bus our groups from point A to point B keeping our carbon footprint to a minimum and once we leave our car park, we run all our experiences by the leave no trace principles, all rubbish will be carried back to the premises and disposed of, all equipment will be cleaned and our guides would insist on our participants leaving a minimum impact on our environment. Our impact on wildlife and on biodiversity is quite minimal really. Because our activities and tours all primarily take place on the water and on either rafts or kayaks, both wildlife and biodiversity are barely, if ever, comprised. Obviously both kayaks and rafts are paddle powered and simply glide along the water with no fuels or noise pollutants. We are aware that our main impact would be and is trampling on our entry and egress points along our route as we get our crafts onto the water, but we have many areas that we can use for getting on and off and we rotate on a regular basis so not to corrode a specific area. We stay primarily in the centre of the watercourse and avoid all reed beds as not to disturb the habitat. We are also quite aware of invasive species and while we primarily use different sections of the same river (The Boyne) we and our staff insist on washing the crafts down if we use different watercourses, lakes, sea etc.
Sewage/grey water effective treatment-visual inspection/record-treatments:
We are currently connected to both sewage and water treatment facilities in the area. Meath County Council are to send us a link to confirm.
Pollution from greenhouse gasses, noise, light, runoff erosion, ozone-depleting compounds and air and soil contaminants is addressed:
We are complying with the legislation, we are aware of noise pollution with the larger groups on the water and make allowances for our surroundings, with Leave No Trace guidelines in place we try to keep the noise to a minimum and pick specific spots on the route that we know the wildlife won’t be disturbed.
Environmental Impacts management systems:
All equipment and gear is checked and counted after each experience. It is the responsibility of staff and guides to log the gear in and out and inspect it after each outing. On the equipment logs there is a report section that the staff/guide must fill in if any irregularities or impacts are noticed. Visitors can inform the guides if they notice anything and let the guides log it. On the self guided tours there are comment boxes at the reception areas to allow the visitors to voice their opinion. The office manager will check and file logs each week.
Our action program is designed that we review our impacts and places of impact on a monthly basis. We have assigned a director of the company, James Murray as our Environmental Impacts officer, James ensures that weekly reviews of our staff reports will give us a great insight into what is happening “on the ground” on an on-going basis. We can monitor all our impacts on a weekly basis as everything is kept quite tight and we are only a small business to maintain. The rainwater harvest system is an on-going installation and will be completed in stages.
All plans and policies are available for review at all times.
· In no way can Boyne Valley Activities jeopardize the provision of basic services, such as water, energy or sanitation to our community, as all sewage and water is connected to local supplies and treatment plants.
· We are connected to mains water and water meters are being fitted onto the town water supply early next year so we can measure the amount used per annum. We are also putting in measures to harvest rainwater to use for cleaning equipment and for toilets.
· The measurement and offset of greenhouse gases need to be communicated clearly eg number of trees planted and scheme used (which we are currently looking into)
Use of renewable technologies
We are currently looking in to purchasing solar panels for our administrative base and a renewable pellet stove for heating and to remove the electric heater.
Use of non-motorised transport
All our product is non-motorised. Everything we do is non-motorised, ie, Kayaking, Rafting, Kayak rental etc.
Use of a cycle network
We hire bicycles to our visitors, there are many cycle routes around the Boyne Valley and some shorter ones in close proximity to our centre.
Use of environmentally friendly fuels/technology in transport
Our fuel consumption is at a minimum and where possible we mostly ever have one van working at a time, although both company vans and hired bus are all run on Eco-driving principles, making sure correct tire pressures and road speeds are adhered to. Vehicles are regularly serviced and maintained by qualified technicians.
Staff awareness of environmental impacts
At the induction level, all staff must read and understand our Environmental Impact Policy and adhere by our strict leave no trace principles.
Waste/water/energy minimisation plan:
We currently have a waste minimisation plan in place.
Green Purchasing Policy in place:
We have a current green purchasing policy document in place in our Eco-tourism Policy.
Communication of commitment of ecotourism principles:
(a company policy which details how our products are upholding the principles of ecotourism and has been drafted and is available to guests ie we have to draft a paper copy of our whole SMS for customers to see if they want)
Use of eco-labelled accommodation:
We currently use and promote local “green hospitality award” registered hotels for local accommodation. Knightsbrook Hotel and Trim Castle Hotel and they in turn partner with us for activities.
Ethically traded goods:
As stated in our green purchasing policy we purchase fair trade tea and sugar.