You should see these happy animals!

An interview with the Environmental Officer of the BILSTER BERG.

Since 1973, 5 June has been the United Nations’ International Environment Day. The BILSTER BERG, which opened in 2013, does not need any special initiatives to make environmental protection a priority. In this interview, Michael Retzmann, Head of Environmental Management at the BILSTER BERG, talks about the somewhat technical aspects of his work, such as the environmental management system, but also about some emotional moments.

Mr Retzmann, how long have you been Head of Environmental Management at BILSTER BERG and how did you prepare for this task?

I have been Head of Safety and Environment since 2011 and have therefore helped to build up nature conservation at BILSTER BERG from the very beginning. I was particularly interested in the projects that were underway before construction began. We built animal habitats, created new green spaces and set long-term goals, such as the annual reforestation of the woods. Since 2015, I have also been head of engineering. My 9 colleagues help me implement the goals and maintain the grounds. The topic of the environment is incredibly interesting and versatile, I love my job.

What is the environmental management system?

The ISO 14001 environmental management system, which we are the only circuit in Europe to have adopted, sets out requirements for improving a company’s environmental performance. There are requirements that have to be implemented; others we have set ourselves. These include, for example, the conversion to renewable energy, the compensation of 50% of the CO2 emissions caused by the driving activities at the BILSTER BERG or also the permanent undercutting of the permissible noise quota.

What specifications already had to be taken into account when planning the test and presentation route?

At the beginning, all animal and plant species on the BILSTER BERG were mapped and listed in plans and catalogues of measures. The implementation of the prescribed measures is checked annually by the responsible authority. We regularly check all objectives that go beyond this together with an external, independent expert.

How do you assess the impact of track construction on the animals living here?

We count all the animal species every year. We have noticed that the animals feel very comfortable here, because all of them have increased in number. Even species that had become extinct here have reappeared. For example, we were able to reintroduce the great crested newt. Now the newts feel very much at home in the pond that was built especially for them. In addition, the orchid meadow has developed splendidly thanks to our care. Without the construction of the BILSTER BERG, this area would have been lost and the native plants there would have been crowded by grass and bushes.

All legal requirements have been implemented in an exemplary manner at the BILSTER BERG. Do you do more for the environment beyond that?

Through the so-called continuous improvement process, which is part of the environmental management system, improvements are noted every three years and then continuously implemented. This included, among other things, driving purely electrically. Converting our lighting to LED. Making pumping stations more energy efficient with the latest technology. Waste is collected, sorted, separated and disposed of. Water, electricity and wastewater quantities are recorded through our consumption data collection, evaluated and reduced through the implementation of new technologies.

Are there any particular moments on the BILSTER BERG that have been memorable for you?

When I was on the BILSTER BERG for the first time in 2006 and saw the condition of the site, I would never have believed that this project was feasible. But the years have shown what is possible with great will and perseverance. I found a new professional challenge here in 2011, and when the track opened in 2013, I could hardly believe what everyone involved had achieved. And I have enjoyed coming to work every day since then. A special highlight every year is the moment when I can let our 20 Galloway cattle out of their stalls and onto the meadow in spring. You should see these happy animals.

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