Following a successful career in UK Government service, Phil works freelance ("expenses only") on a wide range of voluntary activities including writing, freelance photography (especially portraiture and landscapes), website editing, and communicating sustainability and environmental issues including as Chairman of Saltford Environment Group.
Phil was also elected (as a member of the "Saltford 20/20" non-political group) to Saltford Parish Council in May 2015 and again in May 2019 where he is currently Vice Chairman of the Council and Chairman of the Council's Planning Committee.
Through his management and policy development/publicity roles for the Department of Energy (in the 1980s and 90s) and the Government Office for the South West as Regional Energy Efficiency Officer and Senior Policy Adviser (climate change, resource efficiency and sustainable development), Phil Harding has built up a considerable knowledge and understanding of sustainability issues.
In 1991 Phil moved to Bristol from the Department of Energy in London to take up the post of South West Deputy Regional Energy Efficiency Officer after pursuing his career in public sector management in Whitehall where he had worked on a number of high profile Government programmes including the Energy Efficiency Office from launch, and the privatisation of the gas and electricity industries.
Phil's role included providing energy efficiency promotion, guidance and advice to industry, commerce and the public sectors working with public and private sector organisations of all shapes and sizes. Phil has represented the Department of Energy's SW Energy Efficiency Office, Department for Environment, Transport & Rural Affairs (DETR), Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (Defra) and the Government Office for the South West (GOSW, which closed in 2011 due to Government re-structuring and cutbacks).
Phil was also responsible for co-ordinating and supporting the South West Energy & Environmental Management Groups. During Phil's direct involvement and support the SWEEMGs provided continuing professional development (CPD), information exchange, specialist training and networking.
In 1995 Phil was appointed Regional Energy & Environmental Officer in the Government Office for the South West (GOSW). With changes to national and regional support programmes, that post evolved so that Phil subsequently became a Senior Policy Adviser at GOSW with responsibility for climate change adaptation, resource efficiency and sustainable development. Phil became a member of the Chartered Management Institute in 2005. He was awarded the MBE in 2006 for his contribution to sustainable development in the South West.
Phil was the organiser for ENVEC, the main environmental business networking event in the South West between 1993 and 2009 held in Torquay fromm 1993 to 1997 and then in Weston-super-Mare from 1999 to 2009. For more details about ENVEC see below.
From 2005 - 2011 Phil co-chaired Climate SouthWest, the partnership tasked with helping the South West Region of England to adapt sustainably to the impacts of extreme weather and climate change.
Phil was managing editor of the South West of England's 'resilient sustainability' website www.oursouthwest.com when it was launched in 1999. This project developed a large international following but due to changes in central Government from 2010 much of the content has been archived.
Phil has a long held love for the natural beauty of the South West of England - hence photographs he has taken of some of his favourite locations are featured on this site. More can be seen on Phil's photography page.
In addition to producing management guides (whilst working in Government), Phil has written and published the self-motivation book "Motivate me, motivate you" that is available to purchase as a Kindle book where proceeds go to TearFund (see below).
Phil is also an experienced speech writer; the most famous person he drafted a speech for was for Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher in 1982 during her first term of office - see the story about this experience from this link: Margaret Thatcher reads speech written by Phil Harding...
Phil Harding and family at Buckingham Palace, 12 December 2006
Phil was taken by complete surprise to receive the MBE in the Queen's 80th Birthday Honours list in 2006. Phil has never sought or anticipated recognition for his public service and this was a family first. The Queen herself presented Phil with his MBE and they struck up a short conversation about the South West region of England. Phil's wife Pam, daughter Sarah and son James all had front row seats to witness the investiture proceedings.
Protecting the Green Belt etc.
As Chairman of Saltford Environment Group, Phil was SEG's advocate and built the case to defend Green Belt agricultural land from inappropriate development (a housing estate) at the 4-day Saltford Green Belt Public Inquiry in August 2013. The determination decision on 4th March 2014 by the Secretary of State based largely on evidence given at the Inquiry ruled against the development and planning permission was refused.
Phil continues to lobby and campaign for the protection of the Green Belt on ecological and food security grounds, especially while national Government's like the UK's and most environmental NGOs fail to address the issue of unsustainable and unmanaged population growth. This is a short summary of Phil's case for Green Belt protection in national planning policy (NPPF):-
Non-agricultural "natural" land in the Green Belt provides valuable ecosystem support (e.g. habitat for pollinating insects) for neighbouring farmland that lacks the ecology to support itself for the successful long term sustainable growing of food crops and supporting wildlife more generally. Green Belt land thus has an often unrecognised yet very valuable purpose of contributing to the nation's food security against a background of climate change, the continuance of unmanaged and unsustainable population growth and growth in resource consumption. Those factors collectively reduce the UK's carrying capacity, primarily by reducing food security.
Data from the Global Footprint Network (https://www.footprintnetwork.org/) highlights the problem by revealing that the UK has a bio-capacity (that is the productivity of ecological assets) deficit of 298% (2013 data).
In launching the 25 Year Environment Plan (HMG) "A Green Future: Our 25 Year Plan to Improve the Environment" in January 2018 the Prime Minister, Theresa May, said "To make more land available for the homes our country needs, while at the same time creating new habitats for wildlife, we will embed the principle of 'net environmental gain' for development, including housing and infrastructure."
To embed the principle of "net environmental gain" whilst protecting and enhancing the nation's food security, a sixth purpose for the Green Belt should be added: "to provide ecosystem, i.e. natural capital, support to farmland and the wider natural environment".
Testimonials about some of Phil's work can be found on the right hand side of this page.
Phil was the organiser for ENVEC. Held in October each year, ENVEC was the main environmental business networking event in the South West between 1993 and 2009 held in Torquay fromm 1993 to 1997 and then in Weston-super-Mare from 1999 to 2009. In total 16 ENVECs were held. ENVEC typically attracted 250+ delegates and from the year 2000 ENVEC strengthened its focus on climate change issues so that it gained recognition as the main climate change event in the South West region. Its target audience was decision makers in the private and public sectors, energy/environmental/climate change managers, and other business professionals.
ENVEC attracted conference speakers of regional, national and international repute and included what was probably one of the first major conference presentations in the UK (a first for the SW) in 1995 that made the holistic business case for sustainable development.
One by-product of ENVEC was the planting and creation ENVEC Wood from March 2007 to 2010. This involved the eventual planting of 415 native broad-leaved trees in a special ENVEC designated woodland (of mainly oak and willow trees) within Bishops Wood, near Morchard Bishop, mid Devon. Bishops Wood incorporating ENVEC Wood is closed for new tree planting as all the available land has been used. The entrance to ENVEC Wood is in Birch Lane, near Morchard Bishop, Devon.
The approach was to make ENVEC events carbon neutral through implementing the Low Carbon Hierarchy. This was by first REDUCING energy consumption at the event through energy efficiency and related measures, then REPLACING fossil fuels with renewable energy sources (e.g. ENVEC supported the installation of solar PV panels on the roof of the Winter Gardens Pavilion in Weston-super-Mare), and then by NEUTRALISING the remaining unavoidable emissions through carbon offsetting schemes (such as planting trees in ENVEC Wood to absorb CO2).
Phil has delivered motivational workshops and coaching sessions for a wide range of different audiences - see motivational testimonials below.
"Motivate me, motivate you". Phil has produced a popular self-motivation book, that is available to purchase as either a printed book or as a Kindle e-book. It makes a great little gift or a conference hand-out that will be genuinely valued by delegates.
To obtain your copy of either the printed version (fits in your pocket) or the Kindle edition (costs less than the price of a cup of coffee out - and proceeds go to TearFund) click on appropriate link:-
Here are comments from UK and US reviewers:
"This wonderful book is small but powerful!... how to be creative, positive, find the fun, and stay motivated in our professional and personal lives."
Testimonials about Phil's motivational presentation/coaching work can be found on this page.
Free management guides for better business performance (2004 & 2005)
Between 2001 and 2005 Phil co-wrote and produced the several highly acclaimed management guides that have been used worldwide by managers and consultants. Although produced several years ago, the two example guides below are still relevant today. These can be downloaded for free from
this website or the www.oursouthwest.com website (click on links):
managing change (this website - "publications")
greener events (external site)
Phil can be contacted via the home page of this website.