Ashfield Council pledges to become as green as possible amid Net Zero strategy
Council bosses in Ashfield have urged the Government to invest more cash towards tackling climate change
The Government has announced a range of new policies as part of its aim to significantly cut carbon emissions and tackle climate change.
Its long-awaited net zero strategy, outlining plans to meet legal targets to end its contribution to climate change by 2050, has been published to tie in with UN Cop26 climate talks in Glasgow.
Among the key policies are an expansion of the electric vehicle network and new measures to encourage renewable heating in homes.
Electric vehicle charging
The Government's net zero strategy included an announcement of £620 million for electric vehicle grants to support the rollout of charging infrastructure nationally.
Figures show Ashfield is behind many other parts of Great Britain with the pace of its EV charging point rollout.
Department for Transport Statistics show there were 23 public charging points in the area at the start of October – up from 18 a year before.
But at a rate of 18 per 100,000 people, this is well below the UK average of 39.
Since October 2019 – when figures began at local authority level – the number of devices in Ashfield has risen by 15.
Coun Daniel Williamson, Ashfield Council portfolio holder for customer services, corporate change and digital transformation, said, “The council is committed to the roll out of electric charging points.
“At present, we can only install them on land owned by the council on land we are directly responsible for.
“This includes the council offices in Kirkby, New Sutton car park in Sutton and King’s Mill Reservoir.
“We are committed to rolling out as many charging points as possible, but are restricted by the fact much of our infrastructure like roads and pavements are the responsibility of Nottinghamshire Council.
“We are about to publish our new climate change strategy and carbon management plan which includes a major expansion of electric vehicles and other vehicles.”
Households will also be able to benefit from £5,000 government grants to install low-carbon heating systems as part of plans to cut emissions from homes.
It will launch at the same time as a similar programme, the Renewable Heat Incentive, closes to new applicants.
People who join the RHI receive quarterly payments for the amount of renewable heat it is estimated their system produces.
Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy data shows 94,000 systems had been installed across Britain through RHI by the end of September – 15 per cent more than September 2020.
Of these, 85 have been installed in Ashfield, helping to pay for 3,417 megawatts per hour of energy, an increase of nine on the 76 systems installed by September 2020.
An extension to the Energy Company Obligation scheme, which aims to reduce carbon emissions and help people at risk of fuel poverty by making energy firms install heat-saving measures, has also been announced.
BEIS data shows 2.3 million homes across Great Britain had been fitted with ECO measures by the end of June – with 4,514 of these in Ashfield.
Coun Tom Hollis said: “The council is in advance of the suggested 2025 targets for renewable heating and has a number of renewable heating systems within its stock.
“This includes communal biomass and we are currently looking to introduce renewable heating into future new-build projects.
“We are gearing up for the phasing out of gas boilers in our housing stock.
“In terms of Ashfield as a district, residents take up of low carbon heating in their homes has been low to date and requires significantly more Government incentives to make it a viable alternative for residents.”
The net zero plans also include other multi-million pound investments to develop new clean technologies, help green hydrogen projects get off the ground and create woodland.
Officials insisted the strategy will deliver on commitments to cut greenhouse gases by 68 per cent by 2030.
Coun Jason Zadrozny, Ashfield Council leader, said: “The council is absolutely on the way to becoming the greenest council since it was created in 1974.
“This includes the planting of community orchards, increasing the amount of trees in the district and carrying out a green audit of our buildings and procured green, clean energy.
“Further to this, we’ve worked hard to reduce travel and commuting with more staff working from home.
“We’ve rolled out more services online as we strive to reduce the carbon footprint of the council. There are challenges with funding – and it’s clear the Government must match their climate change programme with the funding to allow us to carry out other improvements.
“Every decision the council takes is with our climate in mind.
“The Government needs to do more and I’m afraid cutting air passenger duty for UK domestic flights just days before the COP26 climate summit doesn’t send out the message that the Government are serious about climate change.”
Tens of thousands of megawatts per hour of renewable energy were produced in Ashfield last year, figures show.
Environmental groups have urged the Government to expand on the success of a significant rise in green energy across the UK.
Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy figures show 28,893 megawatts per hour – about 29 gigawatts – of renewable electricity were generated in Ashfield in 2020.
This was 8 per cent more than the 27 GWh produced the year before and 89 per cent more than the amount in 2014.
Energy Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng said wind power is a ‘British success story’ and a key part of the Government's aim to decarbonise the UK’s electricity system by 2035.
He said: "This year alone we’ve attracted five new offshore wind factories to the UK, bringing jobs and investment to our industrial heartlands.
“We are applying this successful model to nuclear, hydrogen, solar, and other renewables so they become the obvious and affordable choice, helping to end our reliance on expensive, volatile natural gas.”