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Final evaluation of the Environmental Services Programme
Scottish Enterprise (SE) Forth Valley ran the Environmental Services Programme (ESP) from 2002 to 2008 with the aim of involving local SMEs in activities which would reduce their impact on the environment while increasing profitability. Environmental advisers and networking events were provided to help businesses achieve this goal. The evaluation sought to assess the effectiveness and impact of the programme, how participants benefited, customer satisfaction levels, and whether it met its original objectives and contributed towards those of SE and the Scottish Government.
Desk research comprised: a review of European Regional Development Fund applications, monitoring data, claims forms and other relevant documents; a review of the changing policy background and strategic links with ESP; and comparative research on similar schemes to identify lessons on effective delivery. Fieldwork comprised: a survey of the 94 participating businesses, with a response rate of just under 50%, and follow-up telephone interviews with seven of these; and face-to-face and telephone interviews with ten key stakeholders.
Several key achievements were identified: increased general environmental awareness and awareness of environmental legislation among participants; lowered costs and improved efficiencies for participants; and the development of case studies from which other businesses can learn. The total impact of the programme was estimated to be far greater than financial savings; unquantifiable benefits included improved business networks, skills and awareness. It was estimated that demand for the type of support provided by the ESP outstripped supply. The ESP filled a gap in the market by providing holistic support to participating businesses.
It was recommended that SE, councils and their partners should co-ordinate future activities closely to avoid duplication. Seamless follow-up support for businesses would ensure that the momentum generated by the ESP is not lost. The programme demonstrated the importance of having environmental specialists in SE at both policy and operational level. Small businesses particularly benefit from a lot of intensive support in this area. Future programmes must be closely aligned with national policy. The nationally-run SE Environmental Management Initiative which replaces the ESP will find it harder to tailor services to local needs, but Business Gateway functions transferring to councils may help in this regard.
Full Report (731 KB, pdf)
|Theme/Sector||Enterprise, Equity, Support to existing/growth businesses, Sustainable development|