Points North: Dan Jackson, Production Manager, Drama, at ITV Studios

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by David Prior

Each Friday, Points North gives a senior media figure a platform to air their views on a topical or relevant issue.

This week it’s Dan Jackson, Production Manager, Drama, at ITV Studios. Fresh from recognition for Coronation Street having the "lowest possible environmental impact”, Jackson explains why sustainability should be a no-brainer for the industry throughout the region.

If you design airliners you're 36,000 feet up without a paddle when it comes to environmental sustainability. If you make telly, you may be good at getting ideas off the ground but fortunately you have a much better chance of influencing the environmentally risky impacts of your activity than either Boeing or Airbus.

That said, with TV production and broadcasting included in the ICT sector’s 2% slice of world carbon emissions, it is scary that we are now being likened to the aviation industry’s jumbo footprint - but when Broadcast magazine recently described how climate change challenges both our survival and our engagement, is it true that it didn’t go far enough?

danjackWith some key exceptions, it's without a doubt that the TV industry’s regard for the environment is lagging far behind many sectors, including the print media – an excellent example there being the Guardian’s recent Keep it in the Ground campaign.

It was 2013 when Coronation Street, determined to review its environmental strategy, engaged with Manchester’s world-leading carbon reduction initiative.

From the off it was obvious that as long as we remained authentic our biggest potential was with our audience and showing Sinead’s up-cycled wedding, Roy’s passion for his allotment and a ginnel with the full complement of recycling bins was natural, but our on-screen activity had to be part of a much bigger picture, not least as a part of ITV's social partnership.

Interestingly, rather than a perfunctory exercise in streamlining or cost-cutting, the ‘greening-up’ of Corrie brought with it a wave of innovation and renewal. It’s true to say the move from our Quay Street site was a great opportunity for every area of production to offer up a number of improvements that continue to sustain an on-going and long-lasting transformation.

A glance under the bonnet at our MediaCityUK base reveals everything from a 100% renewables energy tariff, LED lighting, hybrid vehicles and clever, thoughtful design, to sustainably sourced costumes, responsible water use, a huge reduction in printing, extensive recycling and carbon-literacy training for all colleagues, but it’s the sheer dedication of our crews to take ownership of the way we work that produced the most change.

As Manchester and the North’s creative sector thrives with a world-class range of facilities and Europe’s largest media hub it’s more important than ever that we honour the region’s commitment to a low-carbon economy.

After all, the success of any notion of a ‘northern powerhouse’ will surely be tied to how businesses and institutions cooperate on this and many other initiatives. The Carbon Literacy project developed by ITV, BBC, Dock 10, Peel Media, Skillset and other local partners including Cooler Projects is a radiant example of this kind of collaboration.

It’s these partnerships, along with others such as BAFTA’s Albert consortium and MAST (Manchester’s sustainable arts-collective), who are providing the lift we need to collectively engage with climate change.

Dan Jackson is Production Manager, Drama, at ITV Studios