What do you think Harrogate District will look like in five, 10 or 15 years’ time?
I moved to Harrogate 17 years ago. Back in 2001 smoking was permitted in all public places and the Old Bell in Low Harrogate was one of the few smoke-free pubs. There was no kerbside recycling collection, all our waste went to landfill, Fountains Abbey didn’t have a visitor centre, the Ripley cycleway hadn’t been built and the countryside across the district was shut down with foot-and-mouth.
Back then, if I had told you Harrogate would have electric powered buses in 2018 and be the first town in the country to have an electric bus station, you probably would have just laughed.
Lots of good things can happen in 17 years. So looking forward to the next 17 years to 2035, what changes do we want to see to make Boroughbridge, Harrogate, Knaresborough, Nidderdale and Ripon even better?
Zero Carbon Harrogate believes that becoming a low carbon economy by 2035 will bring a wealth of benefits across the district: improved air quality, warmer homes with lower fuel bills, healthier diets and lifestyles, and job creation from locally generated electricity.
We are a group of volunteers dedicated to bringing together local businesses, community groups, individuals and our politicians to work collaboratively in order to transform our district and become one of the first low carbon economies in the UK.
We need to do this to slow down the rate at which our climate is changing. You will no doubt have noticed our seasons shifting - spring now comes 26 days earlier than it did ten years ago in the UK, and we get more extreme and rapid changes in weather. This is hard for wildlife to cope with but also affect our farmers. Flooding, such as the 2015 Boxing Day floods, brings damage and suffering to hundreds in our communities.
Since the group started two years ago, we have run a number of awareness-raising events to show what can be done to reduce our local carbon emissions. We have five working groups each taking action: Engagement, Food, Buildings, Transport and Carbon Capture (the process of capturing carbon with tree planting and in peatlands, needed because we will never be able to be completely carbon-free).
On transport, for example, we have pushed for a sustainable approach to local transport planning – and we are working with Harrogate Borough Council to get the first car club started in the district.