Leaders from across Norfolk and members of the public came together at a special event that showcased new ideas and solutions to tackle climate change.
Hosted by the Norfolk Climate Change Partnership, the Net Zero Norfolk Conference focused on the potential to deliver sustainable climate change solutions across the county, based on the findings of two innovative studies the partnership had commissioned.
The event, which was held in Norwich at the end of September, was the first of its kind held by the partnership which includes all the county’s local authorities, Broads Authority, New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership, Norfolk Strategic Planning Framework Member Forum, and University of East Anglia. It welcomed attendees from local authorities, public bodies, and businesses, as well as members of the public.
Cllr Ian Sherwood from Breckland Council, spokesperson for the Norfolk Climate Change Partnership Portfolio Holder Group, commented: “We have to work together if we are to overcome climate change. This includes finding new ways of working and innovation to tackle the challenges we face.
“The studies we have commissioned offer us new ideas and highlight the potential for Norfolk. The Norfolk Climate Change Partnership will continue to consider how we can collaboratively tackle climate change across our county because together, the strength of our partnership is greater than the sum of our parts.”
At the event, the potential for local communities in Norfolk to collaboratively reduce, purchase, manage, and generate energy was highlighted, based on the findings of the Community Energy Kickstarter project, which was delivered by Net Zero East.
The research, which included a public webinar, detailed geo-spatial analysis of Norfolk and eight illustrative locations providing community energy case study examples. The report highlights how communities and local stakeholders can engage and collaborate to
stimulate community-based activity, provide structure, access to funding and investment.
Ideas put forward included retrofitting existing housing, considering public-private partnerships, local community ownership, and unlocking the economic, social, and environmental value, amongst other suggestions.
Andy Holyland from Net Zero East said: “There is a lot to consider going forward. Local authorities occupy a pivotal role in their respective communities, can demonstrate local leadership in their areas, and be key enablers and influencers of action at a local and community level. We have a real opportunity to realise the opportunities that exist for community energy in Norfolk.
“By engaging with local communities, community groups and key stakeholders, there is scope to maximise the potential for community energy. But, there isn’t a one size fits all, it will take proactive leadership and engagement to identify, prioritise and enable what might be right for them.”
The second study showcased at the event was carried out by strategic engineering and environmental consultancy Ricardo and looked at innovation and opportunities to decarbonise transport with hydrogen. This research considered the case for green hydrogen – hydrogen made from sustainable sources such as wind and solar energy – for use in refuse collection vehicles across the county.
It highlighted how, operating in a large, rural area, Norfolk refuse collection vehicles could make use of this as an alternative source of energy. The challenges of hydrogen as an alternative fuel were also highlighted, and the hydrogen option needs to be considered against other options.
The Norfolk Climate Change Partnership will continue to work together to consider next steps based on the outcomes of the findings and other activities to tackle climate change across the county. Both the studies have been funded by the UK Government through the UK Community Renewal Fund.
To find out more about the work of the Norfolk Climate Change Partnership, go to www.norfolkclimatechange.co.uk