At Milton Park, sustainabilty is at the heart of everything we do, striving to make a positive contribution to the environment in which we operate and address the current climate emergency.Subscribe to our newsletter
Greener Workplace Forum
Set up in 2017 by Veronica Reynolds, the Park's Sustainability and Community Manager (formerly known as the Sustainable Travel Forum), the Greener Workplace Forum has representatives from over 60 companies across the Park.
As an independent group, the aim is to share best practice and raise awareness of existing green initiatives around energy use, recycling and transport, and be a collective voice when lobbying for infrastructure improvements and investment which help to reduce emissions from transport, buildings and plant and create more space for nature.
Reduce, reuse, recycle
We have a zero-to-landfill waste policy, resulting in approximately 242 tonnes of mixed recycling being processed each year. Maintenance vehicles and tools on-site are electric-powered and we have increased the number of electric vehicle (EV) charging points. We also plan to install more solar panels to expand clean energy usage.
Our maintenance team partner with Happy Earth Soil, a local Oxfordshire company, to collect green waste across the estate and convert it into organic compost for the Park’s plants and urban garden plots. We enforce a chemical-free policy to eliminate the use of pesticides, promoting biodiversity.
Milton Park is home by over 70,000 honeybees. There are six hives located on the Park, which are managed by Nurture Landscapes who provide trained beekeepers to keep the bees healthy and harvest the honey produced.
Nearly 90% of the world’s wildflowering plant species and 75% of the world’s food crops rely in part on pollination by animals such as bees, butterflies, bats and hummingbirds. We have therefore introduced measures to help attract pollinators to the Park. We have a wildflower meadows throughout the Park, such as along the cycle path to create biodiversity corridors.
In the summer months, we hold 'Meet the bees' workshops, where we talk about how honey is produced by bee colonies, how different processes provide different qualities of honey and share ways that you can support pollinators in your own back garden.
The bee orchid is one of the most beautiful and well known of the native orchids in Britain. We are lucky to have this beautiful plant appear at Milton Park from time to time. Flowers consist of:
- Two greenish pink upper petals
- Three rosy-pink sepals
- Rich brown, furry expanded lower, giving it the appearance of a bumblebee on its flowers
Originally called the 'humble bee orchid', this species was given its name because the flowers mimic a female bee, both in scent and appearance. In this way, the male bee is tricked into landing on the flower and attempting to mate with it. When the bee moves on to another plant, the pollen it has picked up from the first orchid is transferred to the next. Bee orchids can also self-pollinate.
Bee orchids are protected, as are all wild flowers, under Section 13 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act (1981). This section prohibits unauthorised and intentional uprooting of any wild plant. As bee orchids can take as long as six years before they reach a flowering stage and may only flower once in their lifetime, it is important to never pick the flowers.
Although the species is perhaps not as rare as people may think, the destruction of grassland habitat through development and agricultural intensification can quickly restrict and isolate colonies of species such as bee orchid. We are careful on Milton Park to identify the areas where we are likely to see these beautiful plants and to protects them from damage.
Here on Milton Park, we have over 2,700 trees, providing an array of great nesting habitat. We have also provided over 30 bird boxes targeting various species of tit and also nuthatches, two owl boxes and two swift towers.
The swift towers have been up for a few now and it normally takes at least this amount of time for them to be identified as potential nesting roosts for future years.
We also provide nesting islands for ducks and moorhens and every year the lagoon banks are home to several families of Canada Geese.
Located by lagoons around Milton Park, you will find small wooden houses that have been created to provide shelter for insects and minibeasts. These bespoke structures allow pollinating bugs to nest, seek refuge and hibernate, particularly during winter.
Building a bug hotel for your garden or outdoor space is a nice activity to do and may also make use of garden waste, such as bricks, wooden boxes or pallets, dry leaves, twigs, dead grass, pine cones and bark. They also look quite attractive. Click on the web link above to find out more.
You may be aware that the number of hedgehogs in the UK has declined in recent years. While there were estimated to be around 1.5 million in 1995, today there is believed to be less than 500,000 (The Wildlife Trusts).
Boxes specifically designed for hedgehogs are scattered around the Park to provide these prickly creatures with a safe home.
Moor Ditch is a water course than runs along the north boundary of Milton Park. It is quite small in cross section, only about 2-3m wide. Nevertheless, it is classed as a river by the Environment Agency. Moor Ditch is important for management flood risk and needs to be kept clear to allow to flow freely.
Moor Ditch receives all the run-off from Milton Park via the many lagoons and interconnecting waterways found on the Park. The river then drains to the north east to join the River Thames.
This river also forms a valuable wildlife corridor from the Thames and we know that it is used by a wide range of animals including kingfishers, heron and even otters. It previously had water voles too but none have been seen for a number of years.
In 2021 we discovered that the second oldest apple tree in the world, the Milton Wonder was planted from seed around 1810 round the corner in Milton Village. While it's probably just under 200 years old, it remains possible that it is older than the Bramley.
Inspired by the discovery of the Milton Wonder, we decided that Milton Park should have a number of heritage fruit trees planted. Two miniature orchards, containing 12 trees, were introduced in 2022 alongside the cycle path by 127 Olympic Avenue and between 152 and 155 Brook Drive. The orchards feature two two Milton Wonders, as well as ‘Epicure’, ‘James Grieve’ and ‘Blenheim Orange’ apples trees alongside ‘Beurre Hardy’ pear trees.
These will provide more diversity for the park and its bees. In turn the bees will pollinate the flowers to provide us with apples and pears. As the trees mature, the apples and pears will be available for picking and eating by the Milton Park community.
As part of the water management of the Park, there are a number of interconnected lagoons that retain water and slow the run-off that comes from all the roads and hard surfaces before releasing the water into Moor Ditch, which runs along the northern edge of Milton Park and connects to the River Thames.
These lagoons and the interconnecting waterways become silted up over time due to debris, including leaves from trees, and the silt needs to be removed periodically to maintain the water flow.
Desilting is a messy operation and required a lot of room and storage. The silt is full of water and this needs to drain away and that leaves the silt to dry. Once it has dried out, it can be smoothed out and cultivated and can be seeded to restore the appearance of the land where it lies. At Milton Park, we try to make this operation as sustainable as possible by locating the silt wherever this is practical. This sometimes leaves areas next to certain lagoons covered with a black ‘goo’ that is unattractive for a few weeks while the silt dries and before it can be cultivated and re-seeded with grass. We always do this work during the winter months when these areas are used less and the visual impact is not so apparent. This method saves us transporting this material off-site to land-fill which is costly and unsustainable.
As part of our commitment to sustainability, we are proud to have our urban gardens meaning occupiers can grow fruit, vegetables, herbs and other plants while they're at work. Each bed is sponsored by a company who decide what they would like to grow. Many of the companies have set up garden clubs for their employees and it is a great way for people to get some fresh air, meet others on the Park and share gardening tips, improving overall wellbeing and work-life balance.
We run an annual Urban Garden Awards to create some healthy competition amongst those with a plot, awarding prizes for:
- Biodiversity award
- Most unusual food item
- Largest food item
- Most inventive garden
- Best use of colour
- Most overgrown.
Wildflower meadows offer an attractive habitat with a huge variety of flowers, an ideal food source for bees, butterflies and other insects. These pollinators play a vital part in supporting the ecosystem as they attract animals such as birds, hedgehogs and bats.
The UK has lost over 97% of wildflower since the 1930s due to changes in agricultural policy, increased field drainage, herbicide use and the growth of urban, but fortunately we have started to understand the importance of naturalised grasses and wildflower areas have grown in popularity.
At Milton Park, we now have 2,900m2 of wildflower meadows and always look at ways to promote biodiversity, such as participating in #NoMowMay. Not only do the areas make the Park a pleasant place but also provide a reliable source of food for our resident bee colonies. Strategic planting with a diverse range of flowering times means they can provide honeybees with enough pollen and nectar to sustain them through winter. This method has proved successful and we now have six bee hives.
Our favourite fruits and vegetables, such as apples and pears (which we have on Milton Park), strawberries and raspberries, rely on pollinating to produce a good crop. This job is carried out by pollinators that depend on wildflowers; without them, we would require artificial pollination, which is expensive and time-consuming, and the increased use pesticides, resulting in negative consequences.