THE county’s only green business awards are back and “fantastic” according to Michael More-Molyneux, as the Lord-Lieutenant of Surrey officially launched CREST23.

The awards are now in their third year and have been welcomed as an important initiative to highlight the region’s commitment to protecting the planet, with continued sponsorship from the WWF UK and Surrey County Council.

The launch brought together a number of business owners, including former award winners such as CREST22 Smarter Transport winner McLaren Applied and sponsors Surrey County Council, the WWF, Holdsway and supporters Surrey Chamber of Commerce and Surrey Hills Enterprises, as well as Jonathan Lord, MP for Woking.

Speaking at Clandon Wood Nature Reserve, itself a CREST22 winner, Mr More-Molyneux said: “To be the only Sustainability Business awards in Surrey is, I think, fantastic and exciting.”

He remarked on the change in attitude that businesses, as well as farmers like himself, have towards the environment, making the aim to get to carbon net zero one of their key objectives and said: “I know many of you here are huge enthusiasts of what CREST is doing and of the countryside, so, all I can say is please keep up the good work and let us go on and save our planet together.”

The awards programme works in association with the University of Surrey and alongside a complete rebranding with new award categories, it has launched CREST Consortium, a new think tank body that seeks to make Surrey the UK’s green business hub.

Representing headline sponsor, Surrey County Council, Katie Sargent, Greener Futures group manager for the authority, said: “The reason we sponsor CREST is because it really does align very closely with what we’re trying to achieve through the local authority network in the county and also more widely in the public and private sector.”

She drew attention to the fact that businesses are responsible for approximately 25% of the county’s emissions and explained that the council wants to work in partnership with businesses to try reduce that “big chunk of carbon”.

The awards focus on supporting and motivating businesses and organisations based or operating in Surrey to confront the climate crisis and protect our environment.

In 2019 the county council realised that engagement was going to be critical to work with businesses and communicating its messages and signposting.

“Fortuitously, that’s when we heard about CREST,” she said, adding: “It’s really lovely that there was an independent award programme that is supported by the university and Surrey Chambers and it’s just the perfect solution and hopefully we will be able to continue to support CREST.”

Katie, who is also on the CREST Awards judging panel, said: “It’s been really eye-opening for me to see the types of businesses that come forward and to read the nominations and see the great stuff that’s happening and then celebrate that at the lovely award event put on every year. I really hope this network can continue to grow.”

The awards day will be hosted by the WWF at its Living Planet Centre UK headquarters on 26 October 2023. The day is set to include sustainability workshops by leading experts on business sustainability as well as the CREST green businesses exhibition.