With COP26 having finished, and with Nottingham City Council having stated its ambition to become the first carbon-neutral city in the UK by 2028, it’s the ideal time to look at how Nottingham can become greener and see what impact that may have on the city’s future and fortunes.
Nottingham: Cleaning Up Its Act
Since 2005 Nottingham has successfully reduced its CO2 emissions by 44%, the biggest reduction of any core UK city. However, it still emitted over 1.1 million tonnes in 2019 so if Nottingham is to achieve its ambition to be the first carbon-neutral city, then there’s still work to do.
Carbon-neutral doesn’t necessarily mean that the city has to eradicate all emissions but where emissions are made then those need to be counteracted by other means. So, what are some of the measures that Nottingham is advocating, and how can we play our part in our city’s green future as local business owners and residents?
Nottingham has been named one of the first “Go Ultra Low” cities with £6.1m of funding to introduce several projects to support the uptake of Ultra Low Emission Vehicles (ULEVs). This, it’s hoped, will encourage local households and businesses to switch to electric and other low emission vehicles. Specific initiatives include:
• The introduction of ULEV driving lanes – these are bus lanes that those travelling in ULEVs can also utilise to enable more efficient travel
• A ‘try before you buy scheme’ – to allow Nottingham’s taxi drivers to see what life is like driving an electric Hackney carriage
• Installation of over 400 electric vehicle charging points to make charging more convenient
• Converting Council vehicles to ULEVs – including bin lorries and street sweepers, demonstrating to businesses the feasibility of switching to electric commercial vehicles (eCV)
This month, a new ‘green car park’ was opened in the south side of the city as part of a broader push to redevelop this part of Nottingham. With ample charging points, it makes driving and charging an EV easier while helping to reduce pollution levels.
Animal agriculture has a significant impact on greenhouse gas emissions with many advocating we should all increase our meat-free days. To help encourage that the University of Nottingham has been involved in launching a new international food flavour facility, which aims to improve the taste of sustainable plant-based foods and ingredients.
Regarding single-use plastics, the pandemic fuelled demand for disposable face masks, antibacterial wipes and plastic gloves may have hampered efforts in recent times. But retailers like Shop Zero in Nottingham’s city centre are helping shoppers shop more consciously and demonstrating how it’s possible to minimise packaging.
With the Eastcroft Incinerator, Nottingham is already at the forefront of turning waste incineration into heat and hot water. While not net-zero, it is a low-carbon heating source servicing 5,000 homes, 70 businesses, and other local organisations.
Other greener technologies and strategies for heating properties are now on the market, but that doesn’t mean Nottingham is being left behind. NCH2050 Homes is a public and private sector partnership involving Nottingham City Homes, Nottingham City Council, and Nottingham Trent University. It’s just one of 17 projects worldwide showcased at this month’s COP26. The idea is to turn hard-to-heat and expensive-to-heat council-owned homes into super energy efficient homes by upgrading boilers, windows, and doors, installing super-insulated wall and roof panels along with solar panels and communal ground source heat systems and air source heat pumps.
With more traditional energy source prices at an all-time high, switching or upgrading home heating systems makes good economic as well as environmental sense. With grants, economies of scale and increased competition the hope is that the purchase and installation costs will fall further making installing changes into homes, rental and commercial properties even more cost-effective.
Food Waste Reduction
To help Nottingham’s cafes, restaurants, hotels, and supermarkets reduce food waste, Nottingham Business Improvement District (BID) is working with Too Good To Go. Nottingham BID is offering businesses within its area a free signp-up to the Too Good To Go app. This enables customers to purchase fresh food that companies would otherwise throw away at a discount. This not only cuts down on food waste but reduces disposal costs and gives businesses a way to attract new customers. It’s a real win-win-win.
Nottingham has plenty of green open spaces and of course we have the famous Sherwood Forest on our doorstep. But now, thanks to a groundbreaking new project, Nottingham has its first “mini forest”. The mini forest known as Hustle Holt is located in Woodthorpe Grange Park and will cover an area about the size of a tennis court. As the trees grow, they’ll help remove pollutants from our city’s air, and the mini forest will also provide residents with a beautiful green space to enjoy.
Nottingham: Leading The Way To Carbon-Neutral
So, to answer our own question, is Nottingham a carbon-neutral city? Well not quite yet, but there are lots of exciting and innovative plans afoot. Rising to the climate emergency can improve the quality of our environment and deliver significant economic returns.
As we’ve seen with the examples above, the city is again innovating and taking actions that others can follow and benefit from. If our collective experience and expertise can play their part in the UK achieving its climate targets, then that’s something else our city can be proud of.
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Food flavour facility to explore sustainable plant-based foods (foodmanufacture.co.uk)
‘Ahead of the curve’: Why £17m taxpayer investment in Nottingham’s district heating is the ‘right spend’ – Nottinghamshire Live (nottinghampost.com)
National Housing Federation – Energiesprong: Nottingham City Homes 2050
SAVE FOOD, HELP THE PLANET | Nottingham BID
Miyawaki-style mini forest to be planted in Nottingham city park | West Bridgford Wire