Image demonstrating Council to declare 'climate emergency'

Council to declare 'climate emergency'

Northumberland County Council is to declare a ‘climate emergency’ - as it vows to half its carbon footprint by 2025.

In a bold commitment to making the county greener and cleaner, the council is also aiming to make Northumberland carbon neutral by 2030 and pledges to work with the Government to achieve this.

Between 2010 and 2018 the council has reduced its carbon emissions by a third, through a combination of using more efficient vehicles, installing new heating and lighting systems and buying of climate-friendly supplies.

As examples, the switch to LED lighting across Northumberland has saved over 6,000 tonnes of carbon and ground source heat pumps in a number of buildings is generating estimated lifetime savings of over 7,000 tonnes of carbon.

Despite these successes the council fully acknowledges it has a significant role to play in maximising its contribution to the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions and is announcing ambitious targets to reduce its carbon footprint.

The plans are set to be rubber stamped by the council’s Cabinet on June 11.

Council Leader Peter Jackson said: “This county is our legacy and we need to ensure we’re leaving it in good health for future generations.

“Although we’ve made good progress over recent years we want to, and must do more and we’re setting ourselves ambitious targets of halving our carbon footprint by 2025 and being carbon neutral five years later.

“To do this we need to be at the cutting edge of new technologies and we’re already looking into a number of innovative new strands of work.”

Areas being explored include:
  • micro hydro electricity generation, with initial feasibility tests being undertaken on the river Wansbeck (Morpeth) and the Wooler water
  • small-scale wind generation, with the first phase exploring the scope to supply power to our depots in Blyth and Stakeford
  • solar carports installation, with the County Hall car park acting as the initial pilot
  • heat from mine water, with the former Bates colliery site in Blyth potentially providing a new, clean heat source for a district heating scheme.

Growing the renewable energy sector will also be crucial and Northumberland is well-placed, as it is already England's second highest producer of hydroelectricity; second highest for onshore wind generation; and sixth for the number of solar PV sites in the UK.

To influence the wider position the council is investing in and promoting the Northumberland to Newcastle Rail Line which would take cars off the road, along with the offshore wind industry clustered in Blyth, which is at the forefront of international development of renewables technology.

And on a more day-to-day level, the council is already looking at initiatives to expand its household waste recycling, including glass and more plastics, create more footpaths and cycling tracks, and increase the number of electric vehicle charging points in the county.

Cllr Jackson added: “While we will be doing all we can to reduce our carbon emissions, a key part of our response to climate change is promoting and facilitating wider behaviour change - this is not an issue just for the council - it’s an issue for every one of us.”

To read the council’s full statement of intent on climate change GO HERE
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