The Northwest is at the forefront of the UK’s shift to low carbon, with more renewable energy sites than any other part of the country, Energy Minister Lord Hunt has said.
His comments came as the Government published the UK Low Carbon Transition Plan setting out how the UK will become the first major economy to convert to low carbon living, and the first to reap the benefits. That includes a massive expansion of renewable energy.
The Northwest already has 140 sites generating renewable electricity, more than any other English region. There are potential sites for new nuclear and tidal sites that could generate up to 5% of the UK’s electricity needs if developed.
Energy Minister Lord Hunt said: “There are big untapped wind and tidal resoures in the Northwest. The plans we are setting out today include how we are going to reach our target for 15% renewable energy by 2020 and if these resources are harnessed the Northwest could continue to be the top region for renewable energy sites. The Northwest is also home to four of the potential sites for new nuclear power stations
“Moving from high carbon fuels to low carbon green energy is an opportunity for us all. With new money announced today to support the development of wave and tidal power the Northwest’s estuaries could also start generating clean energy.
The Low carbon sector already provides 86,800 jobs in the Northwest.
Phil Hunt continued:“Action now is vital to stop the damaging effects of climate change. The climate projections we published last month show if there’s no action the Northwest could face 16% more rainfall in the winter leading to increased winter flooding, transport disruption and risks to urban drainage.”
The UK Climate Projections published last month show that if we don’t take action by 2080 the temperature for the hottest day of the year in the Northwest could increase by a scorching 100 C and even by 2040 there could be 13% less rainfall in the summer leading to subsidence, lower crop yields and water stress.
The Northwest emitted 59,455 Kt CO2 in 2006 which is around 11% of the national total.
Regional Minister for the North West Phil Woolas said: “The Northwest of England was the world’s first industrial area – that revolution was based on carbon fuels. The new green technology revolution must also start here.
Tackling climate change is the major challenge facing the Northwest in the years ahead. The region has already recognised the importance of shifting to low carbon and has more renewable energy sites than any other region. We have great natural resources here, but we need to harness them to make a real difference to the way we live and work. There is much to do, and we need to do it now.
It is a big challenge and one that all of us in the Northwest needs to respond to – from making small changes to how we live to embracing the opportunities that it offers us.”
Steven Broomhead, Chief Executive at the Northwest Regional Development Agency (NWDA) said: “As the lead Regional Development Agency for DECC, the NWDA is already playing an important role in the delivery of this critical agenda. England’s Northwest has a proud industrial heritage and continues to take the lead on climate change, energy and wider sustainable development through the implementation of the Northwest Climate Change Action Plan.
“The NWDA is demonstrating a strong regional leadership on this agenda through the development of the new Regional Strategy, supporting energy and other low carbon technology through innovation, supply chain and skills development, as well as securing energy efficiency and carbon reductions for commercial organisations.”