Britain`s oldest environmental charity to offset closure with a lifeline offer to members and volunteers

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Source: Environmental Protection UK

Environmental Protection UK (EPUK) is to cease to operate as a fully staffed and funded organisation at the end of the financial year next March.

The organisation has faced considerable financial challenges – brought about by a significant downturn in its traditional income streams – and had been exploring additional sources of funding to enable the organisation to continue to operate.

However, in common with many organisations in the Third Sector, and in particular those that rely significantly on funding from local authorities, EPUK has had a very tough 2011.

As a result, the Board of Trustees met on November 18th and took the difficult but necessary decision to begin consultation with all staff on redundancy and – unless members come forward at an extraordinary general meeting planned for early January 2012 with a commitment to take on EPUK's work on a voluntary basis – to close down the organisation.

As part of this process EPUK Scotland is to explore the possibility of becoming a stand-alone organisation, and the Board of Trustees is entering into discussions with other EPUK Divisions and volunteers to establish whether there is the necessary support to take forward the organisation on a voluntary basis.

The process will be carried out over the next few months and will be managed until Christmas by CEO James Grugeon, who announced his decision to leave EPUK in September to take up an opportunity to lead an energy services business in Australia. Post-Christmas, newly-appointed Interim CEO Andy Wallace will oversee the transition, due to be completed by the end of the financial year (end March 2012).

In the meantime, EPUK will continue to provide services to members as usual and to carry on its project work, while securing a new home and support structure for key campaigns – the Healthy Air Campaign and the Black Carbon Campaign – and a number of ongoing projects involving commercial partners.

Commenting on the decision, Chair of the Board of Trustees Paul Cooney said:

'This was an historic and very difficult decision for EPUK's Board of Trustees and not one we took lightly given EPUK's history and its important work.'

'We did not underestimate the impact on our excellent staff team. However, we were left with no other viable options and it was felt that this plan represents the best possible chance of the organisation surviving into the future, which all of my fellow Board of Trustees members hope it will do.'

'Clearly, though, in order to avoid EPUK's closure, members or volunteers will need to come forward to commit to taking the organisation forward on a voluntary basis.'

Outgoing Chief Executive James Grugeon said:

'Local authorities have been forced in the past year to make very difficult funding decisions, following severe cuts to their budgets imposed by central Government. Within this economic environment, EPUK has faced an uphill battle to survive which, ultimately and despite our best efforts, we haven't been able to win.'

'The team here has been and continues to be second to none in terms of their professionalism and commitment to the organisation and its members.'

'We are all grateful to members, supporters and partners who continue to work with us to try to secure a future for the organisation. I hope that they will agree to make a commitment to continuing EPUK's vital work, albeit in a different way. And I am delighted that some of our projects – including our landmark campaigns on air pollution – have been given a lifeline too.'

'As ever, it is a question of funding and support. Without it, crucial work to highlight the public health crisis of air pollution across the UK will simply not happen.'

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