Communities helped with ambitions to tackle climate change

Efforts to tackle climate change have seen dozens of community organisations across North Yorkshire take part in a scheme to offer advice on how to reduce carbon dioxide emissions and cut energy costs in their buildings.

About 50 village halls, sports and leisure facilities, schools, theatres and museums were selected to be part of our decarbonisation project in which free surveys were funded by £75,000 from the Government’s UK Shared Prosperity Fund.

The project adds to our plans for a new climate change strategy which people have been asked to help shape.

People highlighted measures already taken to combat climate change – such as opting to use an electric vehicle, adopting renewable energy in their homes and businesses, and increasing recycling and reducing waste – and pinpointed the issues that prevent action, such as cost, lack of time, and the need for technology to evolve.

Draughton Village Hall near Skipton was one of the buildings to benefit from the decarbonisation project where trustees were told that they could save 1.142 tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions a year – the equivalent of charging 121,643 mobile phones – by spending about £38,000.

Additional UPVC windows and loft insulation, solar panels and using an air source heat pump to replace a gas boiler and water heaters were suggested for the 150-year-old former school.

“As a community we are looking to mitigate climate change by doing as much as we can in our homes but also in our public buildings – such as the village hall and the church,” said Richard Neale, a parish councillor and the leader of the community group, Draughton Action to Zero (DAZ).

“This study gives us a kickstart to launch a scheme for the village hall, the hub of our village, which we can develop alongside the rest of our Draughton Action to Zero (DAZ) project’s proposals.

“These could include both energy efficiency improvements and domestic green energy installations for the church and for our village homes, as well as, potentially, a larger scheme for community-owned local green energy generation."

A group of people outside a cottage

Villagers outside Draughton Village Hall, near Skipton.

Executive member for climate change, Cllr Greg White, said: “Reducing the carbon footprint of buildings in our communities and making them fit for the future is a key aspect of our climate change agenda. These buildings are often older and colder and can be off the gas grid, using oil or electricity for heating. The surveys can offer a few simple ways for local communities to address some of these issues.

“At Draughton, measures like spending £1,500 on roof insulation and £4,000 on windows will make savings in emissions and a significant difference to their heating costs.

“But when you look at bigger venues like The Forum in Northallerton, 25 tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions a year could be saved if all the recommendations are implemented – that would be the equivalent of planting 1,250 trees.”

Our draft climate change strategy sets out three key objectives to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to prepare North Yorkshire for a changing climate and to support nature to thrive. Measures to ensure that we achieve an ambition of reaching carbon net zero by 2030 include reducing energy demand and increasing the focus on low-carbon energy such as solar power as an alternative to fossil fuels.

Figures show that North Yorkshire produced 5,829 kilotonnes of carbon dioxide equivalents in 2020, with agriculture equating to a third of the total, transport responsible for 28 per cent and 19 per cent coming from homes.

The draft strategy was backed in January by members of the council’s executive, who also endorsed an ambitious bid for York and North Yorkshire to become the first carbon negative region in the country by 2040, meaning more carbon dioxide emissions would be removed from the atmosphere than are emitted.

Studies to reduce carbon dioxide emissions were carried out in village, Scout and church halls and community centres in Gargrave, Buckden, Bradleys Both, Draughton, Thornton in Craven, Helperby, Bedale, Scotton, Carlton in Craven, Burnsall, Ingleton, Ingleborough, Low Bentham, Easingwold, Leathley, Summerbridge, Pateley Bridge, Darley, Spofforth, Chain Lane, Harlow, Rainton, Tockwith, Hambleton, Wistow, St Wilfreds, Escrick, Brayton, Ricall and Sherburn in Elmet. Also included were Settle Swimming Pool, Masham Cricket Club, Northallerton Town Cricket Club, the North Stainley Sport and Recreation Trust, Tadcaster Pool, the Tadcaster Community Sport Trust, Masham Cricket Club, the Guisburn Community Arts Centre, The Forum in Northallerton, Bilton Health and Wellbeing Hub, the Ripon Museum Trust and schools in Romanby, Kildwick, Wavell and Hertford.