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National Park Bids To Drive Forward A Low Carbon Rural Economy

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Northumberland National Park is bidding to help rural businesses and communities in and around its borders to move towards greener sources of energy.

The ambitious 15m plan – A Strategic Action Plan for a Low Carbon National Park in the North East of England, aims to create and safeguard some 500 jobs in the rural economy, support 200 businesses and boost the Regions leading renewable energy businesses.

The National Park Authority committed in its Management Plan, launched last month, to making renewables the dominant source of energy for businesses and communities in the National Park using the areas renewable natural resources. By working closely with regional businesses and communities the National Park aims to:

  • Harness the natural supply of fast flowing water from the hills to provide cheap and renewable energy for upland farms;
  • Create renewable energy solutions with real and immediate social impacts using local wood to  help heat  and power the communities in fuel poverty in our Regions deep rural areas;
  • Produce real-on-the-ground training apprenticeships for people wishing to work in businesses which design, build and maintain renewable energy, and
  • Inspire people to visit the Park using electric vehicles including eye-catching promotion of electric vehicles along Hadrians Wall;
  • Be a role model and mentor to rural communities in the region.

The National Parks Chairman, John Riddle commented: Northumberland National Park Authority signed The Nottingham Declaration on Climate Change in 2007 because the time to take action is now.  We want to work with partners and local champions to build on our many successes in supporting sustainable rural communities and business to date.

We believe a focussed rural approach will add a valuable new dimension to the North East regions drive to lead the way in designing, manufacturing and deploying new technology solutions to mitigate the effects of Climate Change.

Successful local businessman Richard Slade, owner of the energy-efficient Battlesteads Hotel in Wark, explained that it had been a good business decision to switch to renewables. His energy costs had fallen by over 80% since installing solar and wood renewable energy while more and more customers were showing their approval by returning to his eleven-bedroom hotel.

Climate NE Coordinator, Adrian Hilton, said: “Helping businesses and communities to move towards greener sources of energy is vital in addressing climate change in North East England. Climate change presents significant opportunities for businesses, and encouraging positive action to climate change as outlined in the National Park’s action plan can only help businesses gain a competitive edge.

“Climate change affects everyone and we must all play our part. The leadership demonstrated by the National Park, alongside individual action, is critical to success. And we will make better progress if we are prepared to take responsibility and work together.”

National Park Director, Stuart Evans, who is leading the bid, commented: We believe that Englands more remote and protected rural areas can lead the way in demonstrating the advantages of renewable energy technology to overcome unreliable, polluting and costly energy sources that have left many in rural communities in fuel poverty. By showing what can be done using the natural resources of one of the countys most remote rural areas and one of its most prised landscapes, we aim to inspire concerted action in other rural communities.

The low carbon action plan will reinforce the Authoritys existing programmes to address the challenge of Climate Change and encourage sustainable tourism and traditional farming. It will contribute to action on a county-wide basis and to the delivery of the climate change strategy being led at a regional level by Climate NE.

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