Following a successful career in UK Government service at Whitehall and regional level, Phil works freelance ("expenses only") on a wide range of voluntary activities including writing, photography, website editing, and communicating sustainability and environmental issues. Phil helped set up Saltford Environment Group in 2011 and has been SEG's Chairman since 2013.
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 Chairman of the Council's Planning Committee (since May 2018, having been Vice Chair of Planning since May 2015). He was also Vice Chairman of the Council for 7 years from 2015-2022.
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 been the designer and Managing Editor for several websites from the late 1990s.
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.
Phil has delivered motivational workshops and coaching sessions for a wide range of different audiences. 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 "Publications" page).
Phil is an experienced speech writer; the most famous Government Minister he has 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...
If he gets the time, sometimes Phil likes to play the bass guitar..!
Phil Harding and family at Buckingham Palace, 12 December 2006
Phil received the MBE in the Queen's 80th Birthday Honours list in 2006 in recognition of his sustainable development and climate change work in the South West region. Phil had never sought or anticipated recognition for his public service and this was a family first. 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 for the protection of the Green Belt on ecological and food security grounds, mainly via Saltford Environment Group, especially while national Governments including the UK's and many environmental NGOs fail to recognise and address the issue of unsustainable and unmanaged population growth.
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 from 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).
Free management guides for better business performance (2004 & 2005)
Between 2001 and 2005 Phil co-wrote and produced several highly acclaimed management guides that have been used worldwide by managers and consultants.
Despite being produced several years ago the two example guides below are still relevant today. These can be downloaded for free from this website (click on links):-
managing change (this website - "publications")
greener events (this website - "publications")
They are also available from the www.oursouthwest.com website that Phil used to edit and manage.