Ten ways in which Harrogate district is going 'Green'

Harrogate school children planting trees in Nidderdale as part of Harrogate Rotary Club's environment scheme.
Harrogate school children planting trees in Nidderdale as part of Harrogate Rotary Club's environment scheme.

Readers may have spotted the words ‘Zero Carbon Harrogate’ starting to pop up regularly at events across North Yorkshire. But what or who, does it refer to?

Rather than being a case of pie in the sky, this new group is only one of many local organisations in the Harrogate district taking real steps to reduce carbon emissions and increase recycling now.

Zero Carbon Harrogate campaign.

Zero Carbon Harrogate campaign.

Harrogate: Top Ten 'Green' Progress

1 Launch of Zero Carbon Harrogate

The ZCH group was formed early in 2016 with the express aim of creating an exciting, better, low emissions Harrogate.

It has more than 40 members from across Harrogate district from different backgrounds.

The inspiration was the screening of the film of Naomi Klein’s This Changes Everything: Capitalism Versus the Climate at St Peter’s Church in Harrogate by Christian Aid at the time of talks on the Paris Climate Agreement in December 2015.

2 Zero Carbon Harrogate’s vision

For Harrogate to become a net Zero Carbon District by 2035.

To develop a low carbon sustainable economy which improves the quality of life for Harrogate District residents.

To partner with organisations, businesses and individuals across the District to achieve this.

3 Harrogate Borough Council’s approach to Carbon Zero Harrogate

Coun Rebecca Burnett, a renowned cycling and walking champion and HBC’s cabinet member for planning and transport, said:

“I have met with representatives from the Zero Carbon Harrogate. They certainly have bold aims with regards to carbon reduction and many of these meet with the council’s objectives in these areas as can be seen from the work we have done to date.

“Achieving zero carbon won’t be easy so we need to celebrate smaller improvements, too.”

4 Harrogate M&S’s redistribution of unsold food

As of April this year, all Marks and Spencer-owned stores have been set up to redistribute unsold food to the local community.

As part of Plan A, M&S’s total of 100 ethical and environmental commitments, the popular chain aims to reduce its food waste nationally by 20% by 2020.

Plan A is the name M&S gives to its ethical and environmental goals.

M&S has also introduced Plan A 2020 with the ultimate goal of becoming the world’s most sustainable major retailer.

5 Harrogate Rotary Club’s 25,000 Trees for Nidderdale project

The Rotary Club of Harrogate has launched a tree planting scheme in Nidderdale in cooperation with the Nidderdale AONB (Area of Outstanding Beauty) to offset carbon emissions, improve farming land and enhance the natural heritage.

Terry Knowles, the driving force behind it said: “The idea for the scheme was inspired by a vicar from Middlesmoor coming to talk to the Rotary Club about ‘The Other Side of Nidderdale’.

“He explained that as farm subsidies were not sufficient for farmers to maintain flocks of sheep, where there were 25 farms before, these had reduced to 10.

“Then if the land was not grazed, bracken was taking over, and once it gets a hold it reduces the quality of grazing considerably. The only ‘cure’ was to plant trees.

“We were looking for a way of offsetting our carbon emissions, and the planting of native broadleaf trees is one way of doing this. So the two schemes came together.

“We have so far raised in excess of £40,000 toward our target of about £60,000 for 25,000 trees.”

6 Progress made by Harrogate Borough Council on ‘green’ issues

The council has actively reduced carbon emissions in its buildings and the way it operates on a daily basis since it introduced phase one of a new strategy in 2013 and, then, phase two in 2016.

A few examples of the achievements so far include:

A new LED lighting in Jubilee and Victoria car parks. 2014-15 year-end figures showed emissions savings of 139t CO2

Various energy efficiency improvements at the Hydro pool in Harrogate, including sub-metering, and installing variable speed drives and sensors (resulting in a projected carbon saving of 11.5%, a total of 52t CO2).

Reduction in council staff mileage by car (2015/16 showed a 45% reduction from 2009/10) through measures such as a staff car share scheme and a cycle to work scheme.

The council has allocated close to £800,000 for traffic reduction measures to be focused on reducing the impact of private car use.

7 Car sharing in the Harrogate district

Local drivers and passengers can sign up to harrogatecarshare.com, a free scheme funded by Harrogate Borough Council to reduce the number of single-occupied vehicles on the roads.

The scheme has around 1,500 members who have registered their journeys and are looking for or offering a lift.

Between them, they currently share 11,800 passenger trips a year, travelling more than 150,000 miles.

8 Bettys & Taylors’ Cone Exchange

The Cone Exchange is a community scrap store based in Harrogate launched by family business, Bettys & Taylors of Harrogate.

It aims to help Yorkshire’s schools, community groups, social enterprises and charity groups turn trash into treasure.

It’s championed by Bettys’ very own pirate, Captain Rummage AKA Chris Powell.

The initial spark for this community project came when a pupil touring the firm’s tea and coffee factory spotted a cotton reel – the original ‘cone’ – and asked if he could turn it into angel to top a Christmas tree.

A month later and local schools and community groups had made 500 angels, selling them to raise funds for a schools project as part of community initiative Starbeck in Bloom.

Ten years later and the Cone Exchange works with over 200 groups, recycles waste from across Bettys & Taylors and provides meaningful work placements for young people with learning difficulties.

9 Zero Carbon Harrogate: Hopes for the future

Jemima Parker of ZCH said: “As a district, we have a long way to go to reduce our emissions sufficiently to both contribute to the national decarbonising targets and improve air quality and improve the quality of living locally.”

“We have already been in contact with HBC, Harrogate Hospital, Knaresborough Council, NYCC, political parties and more. Harrogate Borough Council has been has been very positive but more needs to be done. We are putting together a membership structure which we will be offering to local businesses, schools, organisations and individuals in order to reduce their emissions, and engaging support for the initative.”

10 Future improvements in the pipeline

Harrogate Borough Council is currently working on the renewal of the climate change strategy it adopted in 2009 with the intention of establishing new carbon reduction targets.

Improvement already in the pipeline already include:

Harrogate Borough Council’s headquarters: As work progresses on Harrogate Borough Council’s new headquarters, the building is expected to achieve a BREEAM Excellent rating (i.e. showing best practice for sustainability, being among the top 10% of non-domestic buildings) reducing energy consumption and costs by more than 50% and substantially reducing carbon emissions when compared to the existing buildings.

Council homes: Harrogate Borough Council’s owns more than 3,000 council homes. It is currently in the second year of a five-year programme to improve the energy efficiency of the poorest-performing properties (those with an EPC SAP-rating below the national average Band D), so that they achieve at least Band D.