Councils in Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire (D2N2) have been awarded over £277,000 of funding to accelerate progress on the regions’ net zero ambitions. Fast Followers is part of Innovate UK’s Net Zero Living Programme, designed to help places and businesses across the UK to accelerate the delivery of the transition to Net Zero.

The bid was led by Nottingham City Council in partnership with Nottinghamshire County Council, Derby City Council, Derbyshire County Council, Broxtowe Borough Council, Gedling Borough Council and Rushcliffe Borough Council.

Achieving net zero goals in the region requires partners to work together, and the Fast Followers funding will build on the positive collaboration between Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire to date.

Councillor Corall Jenkins, Portfolio Holder for Energy, Environment, and Waste Services and Parks at Nottingham City Council, said: “It’s fantastic news that we’ve secured this funding to progress our net zero ambitions through partnership working. Local authorities have been ambitious in their plans to tackle the climate crisis and are well-placed to lead this agenda. Research shows that around a third of the UK’s emissions can be influenced by local authorities, but opportunities are often missed due to plans being developed and delivered separately. Our collaborative approach across D2N2 through the Fast Followers scheme will allow us to overcome these challenges to scale up our efforts to reach Nottingham’s ambition to be carbon neutral by 2028.”

The project will be run through the Midlands Net Zero Hub (which is accountable to Nottingham City Council) and will be used to create a consistent and coordinated approach across the D2N2 region to supporting residents, businesses and communities to understand how their actions contribute to climate change. The aim is to embed long-term positive behaviour changes to reduce carbon emissions. Not only does taking climate action reduce carbon emissions, but can also bring benefits including reduced bills, cleaner air quality and improved health outcomes.

A Stakeholder Engagement Plan will be created which will build on successes that have already been achieved in partnership across the region. For example, the Nottinghamshire Green Rewards platform incentivises users to make sustainable choices to move up the leader board and be in with the chance to win monthly prizes. More than 6,000 people across the region have signed up and avoided the equivalent of 426 tonnes of carbon dioxide being released into the atmosphere.

“A lack of consistent messaging to citizens and businesses about sustainable choices available is an issue for local authorities reaching climate goals. For example, misinformation about low carbon technologies such as heat pumps is limiting take up in households. Engaging with citizens and organisations is vital to mitigating the worst impacts of the climate crisis. Through schemes such as Notts Green Rewards, we can see the successes that we can achieve by working in partnership. I’m looking forward to seeing what more can be achieved through the Fast Followers programme,” Wayne Bexton, Director of Environment and Sustainability at Nottingham City Council said.

In addition to work to engage with citizens and organisations in the region, the funding will also be used to support the development of a co-county Energy Plan. This planning will support climate ambitions across Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire and has the potential identify the most effective pathway to decarbonising each district across D2N2.

Michael Gallagher, Head of Midlands Net Zero Hub, said: “A recent report into the socio-economic benefits of Energy Planning for the region outlined that the total net benefit is considered to be £11bn from an investment of £7.6bn. By investing in this sector, we can create more than 4,500 jobs which demonstrates how we can use the green revolution to grow the economy. By understanding how we can transform our local energy system using the Fast Followers funding, we are presented with an opportunity to unlock significantly larger than expected benefits for the region.”

Councillor Carmel Swan, Cabinet Member for Climate Change, Transport and Sustainability at Derby City Council, commented: “We’re delighted to have received this funding that will allow us and our key partners in the region to move forward with key projects to decarbonise Derby and neighbouring areas.

“While we have an ambitious Climate Change Action Plan for the Council, we know that we also need to work closely with our communities and partners to empower everyone to join us on our journey to Net Zero. Local authorities are key players in supporting the wider area and providing leadership on decarbonisation ambitions.”

Mike Biddle, Executive Director, Net Zero, Innovate UK, said: “Innovate UK’s Net Zero Living Programme aims to transform our towns, cities, and communities through removing the barriers to adoption and creating demand for new Net Zero technologies. This cohort of Fast Followers winners demonstrate innovative ideas that are designed at grass roots level specifically to overcome their particular barriers and sometimes unique challenges. Seeing the range of projects is inspiring and, as well as running their individual initiatives, the Local Authorities will share best-practice allowing others to capitalise on proven solutions.”

You can find out more about work being done to reach net zero in the Midlands by visiting the Midlands Net Zero Hub website and following the Hub on LinkedIn.