Renewed sustainability certification from GEO for St Andrews Links


Renewed sustainability certification from GEO for St Andrews Links
Sean Dudley
By Adam Lawrence

St Andrews Links has again earned the GEO Certified ecolabel in recognition of its long-term sustainability commitment and achievements. The Links Trust, which manages the seven courses at Europe’s biggest golf complex was the first Open venue to achieve the certification in 2011 with the recertification coming as the town prepares to host the 2015 Open Championship in July.

The Links has operated a sustainability programme for many years with GEO’s three-yearly re-certification process highlighting the high standards for sustainable management of links turf based on traditional practices as well as the strength of the interrelationship between the courses and the town.

In the re-certification reports of the Links and the Castle Course, third party verifier Mike Wood stated that both had demonstrated significant improvements in standards over the previous three years. The independent verification describes the appointment by the Links of full-time environmental officer James Hutchinson in 2014 as a ‘significant pioneering step’ to raise the level of commitment to develop and implement environmental management work, and increase the public profile of sustainability issues in the work of the Links.

A number of other sustainability measures at the Links were highlighted, including:

  • New sheep grazing project to improve grassland species diversity and habitat on over two hectares of grassland at Outhead 
  • Further improvement in waste reduction, energy conservation and water conservation 
  • Implementation of a rainwater harvesting project at the Jubilee maintenance facility 
  • New food waste composting facility at Eden maintenance facility 
  • Significant improvements in the efficiency of the irrigation system 
  • Construction of the new Tom Morris building, incorporating multiple passive energy saving measures and giving energy savings in the storage and distribution process 
  • Significant improvements in the proportions of supplies sourced from within the 100 mile distance band.

Links Trust chief executive Euan Loudon said: “One of the values underpinning our work here on a daily basis is to be responsible custodians of this special place, which is reflected in a number of ways not least our commitment to ensuring conservation of the living landscape of the Links to help St Andrews’ social and economic vitality. This has been a dedicated element of our work here for a number of years, which makes it especially pleasing that the recertification review identified significant improvements since 2011. This is a source of tremendous pride for everyone associated with the Links as we have not rested on our laurels. The appointment of James as environmental officer highlights the work in continuing to improve and explore new ways of enhancing our commitment to sustainability.”