Cornwall Council has pledged to work towards 100 per cent clean energy for Cornwall as part of plans to tackle the climate emergency and secure an environmentally sustainable future for residents.
The Council signed up this week to become a founding member of the Countryside Climate Change Network and the one hundredth signatory to the UK100, a network of leading local authorities focused on a full transition away from fossil fuels to bring environmental, health and economic benefits to communities.
It builds on the Council’s climate emergency declaration in January 2019 and its ambitious and detailed climate change action plan to help Cornwall become carbon neutral by 2030.
Cornwall is already playing a leading role in clean energy with around 40% of its power coming from renewables, increasing its installed renewable energy capacity from 90 megawatts in 2009 to more than 800 megawatts today.
The Council is investing £16 million towards additional low carbon projects including Cornwall’s first, smart grid-connected wind turbine at Ventonteague, near Carland Cross, which is set to power the equivalent of around 1,100 homes starting this summer.
Other clean energy programmes include a commitment to using alternatives to fossil fuel heating in all new Council-built properties, which is part of a new Climate Change Development Plan Document (DPD) to strengthen planning policies on protecting the environment and promoting renewables.
Being part of the UK100 and Countryside Climate Network will connect Cornwall Council leaders to other local authorities, businesses and national government, enabling Cornwall to showcase achievements, learn from others and work collectively to accelerate the transition to clean energy. It will further promote the voice of Cornwall and the countryside in the climate change debate.
It means the Council will work with residents, businesses, schools and community groups in acknowledging historic commitments made by the Government at the 2015 United Nations Climate Change Conference in Paris toward the future of renewable energy.
As well as protection for the environment and improvements to air quality the commitment could lead to opportunities to develop green industries including the potential for well-paid, high-skilled employment.
Cllr Edwina Hannaford, Cornwall Council cabinet member for climate change said: “We are already recognised as a leading local authority on tackling the climate emergency and our climate change action plan is considered a blueprint for regional leadership in addressing the impacts of climate change.
“Becoming part of the Countryside Climate Network will further strengthen our voice when we are standing up for Cornwall and showcasing our achievements in working to secure an environmentally sustainable future for our residents. It allows us to work closely with local authorities across the country, national government and policy experts on climate change to make the transition to clean energy in Cornwall a reality.”
Polly Billington, Director of UK100 said: “We are excited to welcome Cornwall Council to UK100. Climate change affects every area and every person, and rural towns and villages can be more vulnerable to the impacts, such as extreme weather. Countryside councils like Cornwall are well placed to tackle climate change and meet the needs and ambitions of their communities for economic recovery and better health and wellbeing, with innovative solutions along with the democratic legitimacy to deliver lasting change.”
Other Cornwall Council clean energy initiatives include:
- Investing in the Saints Way, 30km of cycle and walking tracks aimed at promoting active travel, helping to improve air quality and tackle congestion
- Transforming the Council’s fleet, with 25% planned to be transferred to ultra-low emission vehicles in the next 12 months
- Cornwall’s Local Industrial Strategy support clean growth
- Council investment enabling wells to be drilled at United Downs to explore Cornwall’s deep geothermal heat resource as well as support for a geothermal scheme at the Eden Project
- Working with partners such as the Local Enterprise Partnership and Local Nature Partnership to ensure that strategy development in areas such as the Local Industrial Strategy support the principle of clean growth.
- Exploring innovation in floating offshore wind power.