By Cllr Sally Longford
Deputy Leader and Portfolio Holder for Energy and Sustainability
Nottingham City Council
You might have heard that Nottingham City Council is aiming for Nottingham to become carbon neutral by 2028. You may greet this with a shrug, a snort of derision or a round of applause.
Whatever your standpoint, there are things that have already happened, are underway or are in the pipeline to try and reach that target.
But it’s not just about reaching a target. As a council, we think many of these things are a good thing for the city in any case, whether they contribute to carbon emission reductions or not. And importantly, local people stand to benefit from what we’re doing in a number of ways.
Take our public transport for example. We’ve retained ownership of Nottingham City Transport allowing bus services to be operated differently and more cheaply than other cities, and we have developed a really popular tram system. By the Government’s own measures, it’s one of the best transport networks outside London. And with a higher proportion of people than many cities not owning a car, this is a vital way of getting around.
The fact that our trams and some of our buses are electric, and other buses run on biogas, just means the city’s air is cleaner than it would otherwise be. And we all benefit from that. We’re trying to go a step further to protect our children from car fumes by banning engines from being left running outside schools. It’s no harm to drivers to switch off their engines and it’s protecting children from harmful emissions – what’s not to like?
We’re fitting a lot of properties with various measures, like insulation and solar panels, which not only make homes warmer, but more energy efficient. It means bills are lower and comfort is higher – another win-win! Getting energy from the sun, or in some cases through our fantastic energy-from-waste system, adds an extra dimension by once again lowering carbon emissions.
It’s also important to remember what we are not doing. We’re not introducing a congestion charge for cars coming into the city, or banning cars from the city centre, which are both measures other cities are having to seriously consider. By adding to our existing successful public transport, we can make it the transport of choice for many journeys. But cars are still needed by some, and we are doing what we can to encourage take-up of more electric vehicles such as developing an extensive charging point network.
Nottingham is already a pedestrian and bike-friendly city and we will be doing more to promote walking and cycling. For example there will be much less traffic around the Broadmarsh area once its current transformation is complete. It’s just one area where we intend to provide more trees and bee-friendly plants, all of which helps towards cleaner air.
All these benefits are available simply by virtue of living in Nottingham. There’s more that individuals and organisations can do if they want to contribute towards our aim of reducing carbon emissions. We won’t reach that target on our own so we are really interested to hear people’s views about our plans to reach it, and any thoughts you might have that could add to our collective efforts as a city. Please let us know by taking part in our survey here nottinghamcity.gov.uk/cn2028.
Together we can make Nottingham a better place to live – and do our bit to make the planet a better place to live too.