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What is HEF?

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HEF Terms of Reference

HEF is a county-wide group of local authorities, not just the County and District/Borough Councils, but Parish Councils as well through their umbrella organisation, the Hertfordshire Association of Local Councils. There are three main aims:

  1. stimulation of environmental awareness and encouragement of involvement, activity and sustainability at all levels.
  2. county-wide environmental programmes and a Local Agenda 21 - putting the decisions of the Rio Earth Summit into effect locally
  3. an annual conference of all member authorities

Why did HEF come about?

The environment and sustainability have been the subjects of increasing public interest throughout the nineties. Concern over the perceived deterioration of both the local and global environment has intensified as research indicates that changes being inflicted on the planet are long-term and could in time prove impossible to reverse. Aspects as diverse as global warming, depletion of the ozone layer, water pollution and toxic waste disposal have given rise to much public debate and have been the subject of interest and discussion on a, local, national and international scale.

At the international level, "Agenda 21" agreed at the United Nations Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro in June 1992, looked at a wide range of environmental, social and economic issues. Many of the these actions fall directly within Local Authority function, such as waste management, energy conservation, integration of land use and transport planning and the protection of natural habitats. The effects, ideas and decisions made at Rio will be felt long into the future, with the emphasis having been placed on international co-operation on environmental protection, with action taking place at the local level. Ten years on, many of the agreements signed at Rio have been revisited with the recent 'World Development Summit' held in Johannesburg in South Africa.

The need to monitor environmental change, as a necessary precondition of effective action, is widely recognised. There is a need for a common effort and consistent format in the collection of data at internal, national and local levels to allow data to be compared geographically and year on year to look for changes good and bad.

The Hertfordshire Environmental Forum has produced a Quality of Life Report (formally a State of the Environment Report) every year since 1992. It is an environmental audit, which covers the whole of Hertfordshire and has been produced jointly by the County Council and the District Councils. The aim is to examine the current environmental situation and publicise the results, so that this increased knowledge and public awareness can be used to stimulate all concerned to take the necessary actions to sustain and improve the quality of Hertfordshire's environment. This is just one way in which HEF contributes to the internal idea of Agenda 21, by working at a local level

How does HEF work?

A steering group of Councillors from all member authorities has been set up to direct the work programme and resources of the HEF and it has established 4 officer working groups to achieve its aims. The 4 working groups are:

  • Education and Promotion
  • Energy
  • Biodiversity Partnership
  • Quality of Life

Each group has officers from member authorities as well as other organisations or individuals. Groups meet on a bimonthly basis and progress projects and ideas set out in the annual work programmes. By working as a county - wide group, tasks and projects are shared between officers. The Quality of Life working group for example has been instrumental in providing a grant to Hertfordshire Biological Records Centre (HBRC) for habitat monitoring while the Education and Promotions working group is responsible for press releases and for the HEF display at the County Show.

HEF is keen to work with all sectors in the county and hence has close contact with, for example, the HBRC. Your local Council sends an elected representative to regular meetings.

If you would like to know any more, please contact you're local council offices who will be able to tell you the name of your elected representative.