STAFF at Kirklees Council have won praise for their efforts to protect the environment.

They showed their green credentials by cutting back on waste and pollution.

Now their efforts - which began in 1977 - have been rewarded.

All 25 council services have measured up to the coveted European benchmark, the Eco-Management Audit Scheme.

In November 2002 18 services passed. These have now been joined by the remaining seven.

Areas of improvement include greater energy efficiency, developing a role in protecting local wildlife and expanding recycling practices.

Achievements include:

* An 11% reduction in energy used in council buildings since 2001.

* A 5% cut over three years in the amount of waste produced.

* Reductions in carbon dioxide emissions from vehicles.

Recycling schemes are in action for IT equipment, office paper, toner cartridges, fluorescent tubes and furniture.

Clr David Payne, the council cabinet member with responsibility for the environment, said: "We are delighted with this success. I'm sure it won't stop everyone from working hard to keep these standards, and, where possible, improve on them.

"Sound environmental management will continue to be a vital. It pays great dividends and most importantly protects the environment."

Judging was by the British Standards Institution.