Isle of Wight Music Festival
The Isle of Wight Festival is held every June in Seaclose Park, Newport, on the Isle of Wight. Born in the late 60’s, the festival played host to three of the world’s most worshiped musicians, Mark Bolan, Bob Dylan and Jimi Hendrix, before going offline for 32 years. Isle of Wight Festival was kick-started again in 2002 by Robert Plant and has been going strong ever since.
In 2008, the IOW festival and the Eco Action Partnership made a five-year commitment to tackle the inevitable impacts of a large music event, from both a local and national perspective.
Through a unique profile and access to international media, festival goers and major artists, they are able to educate, inform and show by example that 55,000 people coming onto a site for 4 days can be run in an ethical and sustainable way.
In addition, the festival is able to highlight general climate change and environmental issues through a variety of unique initiatives:
- Taking over the Arboretum on the festival site (renamed The Hive), and using the space to educate and inform festival-goers on a variety of issues - showing the hard hitting climate change exhibition Hard Rain, fundraising and information points for our Bee campaigns, a plastic bottle recycling village, the acoustic Solar Stage, mobile phone charging from solar power, and the V-inspired volunteer bus
- Having a unique presence backstage enabling access to major artists and getting them to talk about climate change issues
- Producing short films and showing them on the main screen prior to each day’s headline act
- Carrying out an ecological management plan for the site
- Supporting local conservation projects including red squirrel habitat protection, replanting indigenous black poplars and sponsoring local bee hives
- Supporting the Department of Energy and Climate Change’s Road to Copenhagen campaign, and the British Council’s Climate Champions campaign by giving them both a presence at the festival
- Promoting travel alternatives like Liftshare/FestivalBudi scheme, installing cycle racks and bike hire on the site
- Giving a space and voice to local charities
- Working with major corporate clients on-site advising on carbon reduction practices (H&M)
- Producing Environmental and Travel Policies
- Implementing Waste and Recycling initiatives
- Ensuring major press and social media coverage of all eco initiatives
Support was received from Sir Paul McCartney in the form of a quote and an interview given on ITV2 highlighting campaigns and eco messaging.
“It’s really great that the IOW festival has initiated so much change over the last few years in making the event as ‘green as possible. I’m glad that winning the Greener Festival Award last year has helped to encourage them to take further action in 2010. It is fantastic for artists like myself to see festival organisers investing in ways to reduce their CO2 emissions and taking responsibility for the environment. Not only will this approach encourage others in the music industry to look at best-practice but it will also highlight to audiences that times are changing and we all have to do our bit at events such as these as well as at home.”
David Viner, British Council Programme Leader, Climate Change gave this message.
“Climate change is a problem that affects everyone, and it will take more than just politicians, economists and scientists to work out the answers. We’re helping to support the Arboretum (Hive) and are hoping to increase awareness on climate change and what we do in an innovative way and engage as many people as possible……….”
As the festvial gears up for the fourth year, the proven track record thus far includes:
- Two successful bee campaigns, Give Bees a Chance and Let it Bee, highlighting challenges facing both honey and bumble bee species and taking direct action on the island
- Two ‘Outstanding Festival’ awards from A Greener Festival, one of only 11 major festivals worldwide to be recognised this way
- Achieving BS8901 environmental certification
- Receiving Julie’s Bicycle Industry Green mark
- Becoming an official 10:10 business and meeting our percentage reduction obligation in 2010
- Being the subject of a published environmental paper on sustainability issues within the festival industry
- Producing a carbon audit showing a genuine reduction over the last 3 years
Isle of Wight Festival is amongst the first festivals to be awarded the Industry Green mark. This is a signal to artists and audience that the festival promoter is taking action with respect to climate change and has committed to scientific scrutiny and public accountability.
In 2010 the Isle of Wight Festival achieved an absolute reduction in total emissions of 22%. For 2011, the work will continue striving to make this event the most sustainable and environmentally conscious major festival in the UK, and the aim is to use their position and credibility within the industry to inspire other organisers to take a similar approach with their events knowing that they too can have a positive impact both at a local and national, if not global level.
Richard Storey, Director
Eco Action Partnership