Scoring green goals in Gloucestershire

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Forest Green Rovers based in Nailsworth, Gloucestershire, is a member of Sustainability in Sport, an organisation run by a group of people with a passion for sport, community and the environment. Launched by Ecotricity’s Dale Vince and Gary Neville, the former captain of Manchester United, it supports the growth of sport, whilst reducing the associated environmental impacts.

180 solar panels have been installed on the stadium roof and generate about 10% of electricity used by the stadium. Some of this is used to power its new “mow-bot” – a solar powered robotic lawn mower which uses GPS technology to guide it round the pitch without the need for human attention. The same technology is used by Bayern Munich. Forest Green groundsman Stuart Ward said the robot “saves me time and there’s no more dirty fuel or noise to deal with. The time I used to spend mowing can now be utilised tending to the pitch in other ways to make the best possible surface for the players”.

Mr Vince said the club was now looking at installing low energy LED floodlights and possibly an electric minibus for the team.

The Stroud News & Journal (25.4.12) adds that the club recycles water used on the pitch and BBC Gloucestershire reports that Forest Green Rovers spreads cow manure on its grass to create an organic pitch. The mow-bot now distributes a mulch, which may add to or supersede the manure.

The club has launched a meat-free low carbon menu. This was a gradual process, starting with a ban on red meat. The staff and players moved to a locally sourced, almost entirely vegetarian diet, and now on-site catering for the spectators at The Green Man offers locally sourced food, predominantly vegetarian, but fish and chips is on the menu. No sausage rolls and beef-burgers are sold but there is rainbow kobez wrap with pumpkin hummus, grated beets and carrot, the Green Man – courgette, leek and mushroom – pie, the Portobello mushroom burger and rough-cut chips cooked in rapeseed oil.

Come the revolution

A local resident tells me that the menu is now vegan – as Vince had intended – and believes that ‘war’ will break out over this. Ken, a supporter for the past 25 years, is more open-minded than some and explains: “The thing is, what we’re not happy about is that we don’t have a choice. We’re quite happy for there to be vegetarian food on the menu, it’s just we’d like a meat option as well.”

Dale Vince says, “we are not just doing this to provide tasty food. It takes ten times more energy to feed a meat-eater than it does to feed a vegetarian.”

Perhaps a good compromise, should there be a rebellion, will be to use meat from grass-fed animals.

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