The local authority drew up a climate action plan on the back of declaring a climate emergency in the summer of 2019, with goals of bringing the county’s emissions down to net zero by 2030 and halving the council’s output by 2025.
The action plan has now been updated to include the priorities for the next two years – 2021-22 and 2022-23 – alongside ‘the work required to develop the strategies and deliver the projects needed from 2023’.
The report, which is due to be signed off by the cabinet on Tuesday, February 9, notes that there are ‘significant challenges’ in achieving the target, given that 709.1 kilotonnes of CO2 will need to be removed from Northumberland’s annual emissions by 2030 in order to become net-zero.
It adds: ‘Achieving this through the scenarios modelled in this plan will require an inward investment into the county of around £1.6billion over the next nine years.’
However, the ‘level of investment in the scenarios modelled in this plan could create up to 11,000 local green jobs’.
In this vein, the introduction of the council leader, Glen Sanderson, highlights that as well as the environmental benefits, this is part of the authority’s plan for the future of the county’s economy.
‘While addressing climate change will require changes to the way we live our lives and do business, there is also significant opportunity for Northumberland to position itself as the centre of the UK’s thriving green economy,’ he says.
‘We have vast natural resources, already absorbing more carbon than any other English county and with the potential to sequester far more, while supporting nature.
‘We have resilient, innovative communities eager to build back stronger and greener from the Covid-19 crisis and, as a council, we will be seeking to attract green investment, to create jobs and build more green infrastructure which will have a positive impact not only on the climate, but on our day-to-day lives.’
The conclusion of the 75-page action plan states: ‘The council was clear in its initial pledge when declaring a climate emergency in 2019, that it would require the support of national government along with regional agencies, residents and businesses to achieve a carbon-neutral Northumberland. This has not changed and indeed this action plan provides further evidence that a joined-up and collaborative approach is required.
‘However, the knowledge and experience, together with the partnerships and networks the council has built up which underpin the actions and scenarios set out in this plan, demonstrate that it is in a good position to lead the county towards net-zero and to facilitate the collaboration between national government and local communities which will be required.
‘Despite the challenges, there is reason for optimism as the actions and scenarios set out in this plan will benefit residents, businesses, visitors and nature across the whole county.’
The covering report notes that progress during 2020-21 means that the goal to reduce council emissions by 50% by 2025 is on track.