Climate crisis: York and North Yorkshire announce new strategy

Members of North Yorkshire County Council are expected to approve a brand new climate strategy ahead of the merger of the region’s district councils, which will see it aim to become the UK’s first “carbon negative” region.

A wide-ranging and ambitious programme of environmentally-friendly projects in North Yorkshire is hoped to lay the foundations in helping the area to tackle climate change.

Councillors at North Yorkshire County Council are expected to approve a draft strategy on climate next week ahead of a major public consultation on the cornerstone document.

Read more: Council that declared a climate emergency delays environmental measures

The council’s cabinet is also expected to endorse a bid for York and North Yorkshire to become the first carbon negative region in the country, meaning more carbon dioxide emissions would be removed from the atmosphere than are emitted.

North Yorkshire County Council’s executive member for climate change, Cllr Greg White, said: “Climate change is without question the greatest threat that the world faces, and is already impacting on communities across the globe.

“We have seen an increasing frequency of extreme weather conditions here in North Yorkshire and across the UK as a whole, which scientists tell us is clear evidence of significant changes in our climate.

The Northern Echo: Cllr Greg White.Cllr Greg White. (Image: North Yorkshire County Council)

“Without clear and decisive action, the situation will only get worse. However, we are committed to ensuring that we have a comprehensive strategy in North Yorkshire, especially as we look towards the launch of the new authority this spring.”

The new climate strategy is being put in place for the new North Yorkshire Council, which launches on April 1 when North Yorkshire County Council and the seven district and borough authorities merge to pave the way for a devolution deal, which is set to transfer decision-making powers and millions of pounds of funding from Westminster to local political leaders.

The new authority’s hope to become carbon negative will be seen as a crucial part in the UK Government’s aim to become carbon neutral by 2050, with new investment on cutting-edge industries in the green sector.

A consultation will be launched under the Let’s Talk banner, following on from the success of similar exercises that were carried out last year to glean the public’s views on the new council, its budget and a proposed devolution deal for York and North Yorkshire. More than 32,000 people engaged with the consultations from September to December, with more than 8,000 surveys completed across all three topics.

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The draft strategy acknowledges that a host of measures will be needed and introduced across the public sector as well as businesses and North Yorkshire’s communities.

It’s hoped that the move to a single unitary authority covering the whole of North Yorkshire will provide a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to streamline policies and provide a clearly defined approach across the county.

North Yorkshire County Council’s leader, Cllr Carl Les, who will become the leader of the new authority in April, said: “The new North Yorkshire Council will present us with a huge opportunity to provide a co-ordinated strategy across the county, working closely with our communities and partners.

“It will provide crucial foundations in helping reduce carbon emissions in North Yorkshire and for the whole country to achieve the Government’s target to become carbon neutral by 2050.”

North Yorkshire’s vast natural habitats are seen as a vitally important resource to capture carbon emissions and help prevent climate change. The county includes 750 local wildlife sites, 220 Sites of Special Scientific Interest, 24 national and local nature reserves and two National Parks covering the Yorkshire Dales and the North York Moors.

Among the key projects to help tackle climate change is the BioYorkshire initiative, which is being led by the University of York, Askham Bryan College and Fera Sciences. The green scheme hopes to create more than 4,000 highly skilled jobs and reduce carbon dioxide emissions in the UK by 2.8 million tonnes a year and generate £1.4bn to the national economy.


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Members of North Yorkshire County Council’s executive will meet on Tuesday next week (January 17). If they approve the strategy, as is expected, the public consultation will be launched within the next month, and is due to last eight weeks.

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