Northwest Business Environment Awards 2010

2010 Case Study - Colin Sykes, BBC North West Tonight

Media and Communications

Colin Sykes, environment and transport correspondent at BBC North West Tonight in Manchester has scooped this year's Media and Communications Award.

Over the last 10 years Colin has been responsible for bringing a range of environmental issues and campaigns to the attention of the general public and successfully communicating complex ideas to a mass, non-specialist audience. He prides himself on presenting arguments and innovations in an accessible and engaging way, to encourage a growing appetite for the subject amongst his viewers.

In 2010, Colin’s extended reports covered a diversity of topics, including household energy efficiency, the development of offshore wind farms, the impact of the 25 year Mersey Basin Campaign, a Mersey Forest scheme to encourage vulnerable teenagers to learn about the natural environment, and the award-winning Blacon carbon reduction project near Chester. He was praised by the judges for his consistently high quality, informative and well balanced news reports.


During his time in post, Colin has experienced widespread changes in attitudes towards issues such as recycling and energy efficiency but has always been careful to present the facts and allow the audience to make up their own minds. He is engaged in an ongoing battle to gain more airtime for environmental stories, in a busy primetime news slot. His reports have featured dozens of local businesses and key players who are leading the way on the sustainability agenda across the North West.

His reporting has helped to raise awareness of local environmental issues among a mass audience averaging 550,000 per show. It has also raised the profile of local businesses and indivudals involved in the sustainability agenda across the region and has arguably helped to increase demand for environmental news content on the regional news.

What the judges said:

  • "Colin deserves regional recognition for his commitment to producing consistently high quality coverage, achieved across a wide range of environmental issues and from all angles, over many years."
  • "A true example of reporting that is balanced and fair, with a strong visual impact, helping to promote issues of environmental performance and sustainability to a mass audience across the North West."


Runner Up

Eden Rivers Trust, Penrith

This small organisation is responsible for a successful three-year communications campaign to raise public awareness of the importance and beauty of the River Eden and to conserve and protect the local wildlife, including the endangered white-clawed crayfish. The campaign has used a wide range of communications channels and involved 247 local people in a range of activities last year. This included people of all ages and from all walks of life, including school children, families, retired people, anglers, Brownies and Guides, college students, businesses and government agencies.

In addition to a highly successful media relations campaign, targeting print, broadcast and online media, the project has involved public exhibitions, volunteer river clean-up days, presentations to community groups, show and event attendance, school visits and volunteer-led crayfish population and river health surveys. The team has also worked closely with angling and canoe clubs in the area to communicate messages about how to protect the river and its crayfish population. The team’s websites, newsletters and director’s blog have been regularly updated to keep the public up-to-date with the campaign’s progress. Plans for the future include further web development and engagement with social media such as Twitter and Facebook.


  • - 360 press and website articles communicating key messages about the campaign.
  • - Published articles in parish newsletters, school newsletters and local authority magazines.
  • - 31 reports on local radio and TV about the campaign.
  • - Widespread community awareness of the presence and plight of native crayfish in the Eden Valley.
  • - 247 local people directly involved in the campaign.
  • - Increased funding secured for an ongoing campaign. /