How the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority is tackling climate change
What are the things that your NPA considers it is strong on in relation to climate change mitigation and/ or adaptation?
- Partnership working and bringing in external funding. Projects implemented with, amongst others, Yorkshire Dales Millennium Trust, Craven Local Strategic Partnership, Yorwoods; Nidderdale AONB, Energy Efficiency Advice Centre, Microgeneration Yorkshire, and the National Trust. Worth almost £1 million.
- Providing models of best practice. Range of innovative projects funded through the Sustainable Development Fund, including a local community bio-diesel scheme, which recently received a Social Enterprise Innovation Award.
- Reducing operational emissions - Carbon emissions from Authority operations reduced by 64 tonnes (10%) last year. Detailed action plan in place to reduce by further 140 tonnes (23%) by 2009/10.
What are the 3 main things your NPA is doing on climate change?
1. Supporting small-scale renewables. Through the Sustainable Development Fund, the Authority has provided almost £300,000 to 15 renewable energy projects worth nearly £1 million. This includes:
- 3 hydro-power projects (including restoring the oldest in-situ water turbine) and a feasibility study to identify further potential sites;
- 3 biomass projects, including a two year biomass facilitation service. These projects are stimulating supply chains and processing, developing a local bio-mass market and encouraging the sustainable management of woodlands;
- a number of community and education projects, including a community co-operative scheme operating a bio-diesel project running off locally-sourced waste vegetable oil.
2. Woodland creation – since 1995, the Authority and its partners (notably the Forestry Commission and Yorkshire Dales Millennium Trust) have embarked on a sustained programme of support for the creation of new native woodland. In total, some 860 hectares have been planted (170 hectares in the last two years). At a conservative estimate, this woodland will be reducing emissions by over 3,000 tonnes of carbon per year (and over 21,000 tonnes in total).
3. Greening Authority operations – The Authority’s headquarters building – which opened in 2006 - incorporated a number of environmentally-friendly features, including a ground water heat pump to capture the low-grade heat from the ground and use this to provide underfloor heating to the offices. Together with other operational measures, this has reduced annual emissions by 64 tonnes of carbon (10%). Action now in hand – including installation of wood-fuel heating systems at two Authority buildings – will reduce annual emissions by a further 139 tonnes of carbon (23%) by 2009-10.
What are the 3 things your NPA aspire to do on climate change over the course of the CSR period (2008/09 – 2010/11)?
1. A major programme of peatland restoration and management. Peatlands in the Yorkshire Dales may store up to 10.5 million tonnes of carbon. If restored to pristine condition, Dales’ peatlands have the potential to capture up to 7,000 tonnes of carbon from the atmosphere every year. It is vital that the upland peatlands outside SSSIs are maintained and restored to pristine condition through a programme of grip blocking, bare peat restoration and grazing management. Officers from theupland protected area network in the region (Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority, North York Moors National Park Authority and Nidderdale AONB) together with Pennine Prospects, are now working with a range of partners to develop a regional upland peat restoration project.
2. Develop a programme to support on-farm energy efficiency/renewables. Upland farms are isolated from mains supplies, rely on inefficient fuel sources, and are highly energy inefficient (both domestically and commercially). A programme would bring significant climate change benefits as well as helping to improve the competitiveness of a crucial sector of the industry.
3. Identify and begin to reinforce key habitat networks across the Park. All key habitats have been mapped over the last 5 years. This information is now being used to identify key habitat networks (already done for woodland). In turn this will lead to targeting of resources on key ‘hotspots’ for enhancement and less intensive land management, as part of a Park-wide adaptation strategy.
What are the main obstacles that you currently face to do more?
- Lack of science and therefore reliable figureson carbon storage/sequestration/reduction potential and therefore which actions have the biggest impact. (e.g. is peatrestoration more effective than getting insulation into every house in the Dales?).
- Being able to bring together key national and regional bodies (which don’t have an ‘on the ground and embedded in the community’ presence) to support delivery through local bodies (NPAs and others). At the moment, every organisation (big or small) feels obliged to have their own climate change projects.
- Engaging the support of landowners and farmers for activities that do not yet stack up economically for them.