Harrogate's 'inadequate' carbon reduction strategy criticised as green consensus splinters

Harrogate Borough Council is looking for the public’s views on a third version in four years of its Carbon Reduction Strategy for the district. But one respected local pressure group claims the new draft’s admirable objectives are let down by the lack of a clear action plan.

Thursday, 23rd December 2021, 9:37 am
Updated Thursday, 23rd December 2021, 9:38 am
Jemima Parker of Zero Carbon Harrogate, pictured with fellow member Steve Scales, has criticised the latest draft of the town's Carbon Reduction Strategy.

Harrogate Borough Council’s hopes of an easy ride for the new version of its blueprint to hit climate change targets have been dented by the decision by one of the district’s least partisan, most positive 'green’ groups to break ranks.

In the week the council launched a new consultation on its revised Carbon Reduction Strategy, the normally optimistic Zero Carbon Harrogate has labelled the new draft as wholly “inadequate”.

Sign up to our daily Harrogate Advertiser Today newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

Having set out its vision of a net zero-carbon economy in the Harrogate district by 2038 only three years ago, the council is looking for the public’s views on revisions designed to reflect changes in national and regional policies on climate change.

But Zero Carbon Harrogate, a key member of Harrogate District Climate Change Coalition, a body launched originally in 2019 by the council itself, says that while it welcomes the draft strategy's aims, which it says are admirable, the lack of quantifiable targets or any measurable action plan mean the new draft is unfit for purpose.

Jemima Parker, Chair of Zero Carbon Harrogate said: “We welcome the council’s ambitions. The new draft is is a good starting point but it fails to grasp the scale of response needed.

“We are concerned that there is no mention of renewable energy generation for domestic use.

“We are concerned that there is no mention of developing a suitable integrated travel plan for the district.

“For the council to reach it’s net zero economy target it will also need to have a gear shift in generating renewable energy and put in place some form of carbon capture to offset the carbon emissions that are too difficult or costly to

reduce.”

Harrogate Borough Council has been praised in recent years for its efforts to improve its own carbon footprint and in highlighting the importance of reducing the district’s carbon emissions.

As recently as October it was a keen supporter of the first-ever Harrogate Climate Action Festival.

In the new draft’s summary, produced by the council’s Economy, Environment and Housing directorate, it says the maximum amount of carbon emissions the Harrogate district can emit between now and 2050 to stay within its targets is between 6.3 million to 9 million tonnes of CO2.

But the district is already emitting around 1 million tonnes of CO2 each year, a figure which would condemn the strategy to failure.

As a result, the draft concludes, the majority of all carbon cuts need to be delivered in the next ten years which will require “big and rapid changes”.

The council acknowledges how far it still has to go, if it is to turn its net zero dreams into reality.

But its hope is that the revised Carbon Reduction Strategy will encourage all sectors of society in the district to join it in doing more to tackle climate change.

Coun Phil Ireland, Harrogate Borough Council’s cabinet member for carbon reduction and sustainability, pictured, said: “Our draft carbon reduction strategy has a number of aims and objectives but this can only be achieved by working together.

“I’d urge everyone to share their views on our draft carbon reduction strategy so that we can help deliver net-zero carbon emission by 2038.”

The 'green' consensus in Harrogate

Once finalised, Harrogate Borough Council’s new Carbon Reduction Strategy will replace the current version which was adopted in October 2019.

Recent years has seen the council seek to build unity on tackling carbon reduction in a series of collaborations with pressure groups, business organisations and public bodies.

In general, harmony has reigned, fostered partly by Harrogate District Climate Change Coalition, a broad coalition of local forces originally promoted by Harrogate council itself in 2019.

But cracks have appeared.

Last November saw 13 local environmental organisations come together to form Harrogate District Climate Action Network (HD-CAN) after expressing disappointment at “lack of action”.

In February of this year, Harrogate’s Lib Dem leader Coun Pat Marsh quit the climate coalition after, again, criticising lack of progress.

And Coun Marsh’s pleas for Harrogate to join other councils in Britain in declaring a “climate emergency” has so far fallen on deaf ears.

Public consultation on Harrogate's Carbon Reduction Strategy: How to take part

Harrogate Borough Council is urging people to share their views on its revised carbon reduction strategy which will replace the current version on the path to ensuring the Harrogate District will have a net zero-carbon economy by 2038.

Each theme will have a number of objectives - supported by relevant parties - to reduce carbon emissions, improve energy efficiency in existing and new buildings, promote tree-planting initiatives and encourage sustainable travel.

The strategy has been divided into the following themes:

Domestic energy efficiency;

Sustainable transport;

Land use and agriculture;

Engaging businesses and public sector partners;

Influencing new development;

Council buildings and Harrogate Convention Centre;

Operational and staff transport.

The consultation will close on January 2, 2022.

The comments received during the consultation period will help the council to draw up the final updated version of the strategy.

To take part in the consultation, visit www.harrogate.gov.uk/haveyoursay#carbon