Covenant of Mayors
  Covenant Newsletter May 2012  
North Tyneside Sustainable Energy Action Plan: Good news for businesses and residents
{{{Interview with Linda Arkley, Mayor of North Tyneside Council.}}} Commitment to the Covenant of Mayors is paying off in the UK borough of North Tyneside. According to official government figures, the borough’s endeavours have resulted in a fall of greenhouse gas emissions per person which is among the highest in the country.

With investments in renewables and energy efficiency producing a spinoff effect on various sectors of activity, the measures included in North Tyneside Council’s Sustainable Energy Action Plan shall prove highly beneficial to businesses and residents alike, leading to new economic prospects and improvement of the local quality of life.

Covenant of Mayors Office: In a few words, how would you sum up the key measures and long term objective of the North Tyneside Council Sustainable Energy Action Plan?

North Tyneside Council’s Sustainable Energy Action Plan (SEAP) details how we will reduce carbon emissions across the domestic, commercial / industrial and transport sectors by more than 20%, based on a 2005 baseline year, by 2020. The SEAP was approved by North Tyneside Council’s Cabinet in August 2010.

The plan will build on the excellent progress made in North Tyneside on reducing carbon emissions. The latest published figures from the Department of Energy and Climate Change show that the borough’s carbon footprint fell by 23% between 2005 and 2009. North Tyneside was joint 9th of all unitary authorities across England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland for reduction in carbon emissions.

The Covenant of Mayors Low Carbon Regions Project is one of the most ambitious challenges relating to climate change North Tyneside Council has undertaken. The shear scale of the project is far reaching not only in terms of its impact but also in terms of how we galvanise such a wide range of participants to contribute to our significant borough-wide carbon reduction goal.

As a Council, we are reducing our own carbon emissions through plans and programmes currently being implemented across a wide range of our services. However, less than 4% of North Tyneside’s carbon emissions are generated by the Council and it is thus important that we communicate the vision of the Sustainable Energy Action Plan with the help of our partners and stimulate collective action. We will also have to create new partnerships where gaps are identified or currently exist and this will ensure that the outcomes of the plan are understood, acted upon and key achievements are celebrated.

CoMO: What do you expect will be the social and economic benefits of such measures for the citizens and local community?

We are well placed to act and eager to support any process which stimulates economic development and quality of life improvements for our communities in this field of work. As a Council, we are pleased to be in a position to lead these actions and activities.

For example, as some of our local industrial areas become "Low Carbon Enterprise Zones", opportunities are emerging to support local workforce development and training. In terms of tackling fuel poverty, the "North Tyneside Warm Zone" project has been delivering insulation measures in homes in North Tyneside since 2008 and will enable residents to save £2.1m (€ 2.6m) per annum on fuel bills. This project has also generated over £3.8m (€ 4.7m) in additional benefit entitlement for residents of North Tyneside.

Likewise, the North Tyneside Council has successfully delivered the largest installation of solar photovoltaic panels on social housing in the country to date. Between September 2011 and March 2012, we installed 14,050 panels to 1,463 council homes. This means that over 9% of our 15,619 tenanted homes now benefit from Solar PV.

Winning the support of tenants was essential to the success of this project and we managed to live up to this challenge. According to an Energy Savings Trust survey on public attitude towards environmental issues, the ways in which we communicate carbon reduction and energy conservation to our communities is making an impact.

We are building upon our approach to local energy days and written communications and continue to seek more creative and meaningful ways of engaging council staff, residents and businesses.

CoMO: How do you plan to involve the private sector and local energy companies in bringing this vision to fruition? Which other actors does the administration intend to reach out to?

The Covenant of Mayors Sustainable Energy Action Plan is not a stand-alone document. It is an integral component of a long history of carbon reduction action in the borough. All actions, which are developed and delivered within the Council, are required to demonstrate continuity within the borough-wide Sustainable Community Strategy.

We have made some significant progress in working with the private sector as part of our commitment towards hitting our emissions target.

As I mentioned earlier, the Council, with our partner E.ON, has delivered the largest installation of solar photovoltaic panels on social housing in the country to date.

As regards the North Tyneside Warm Zone, it is a partnership between North Tyneside Council, the Warm Zone Community Interest Company and Scottish Power. The scheme has attracted over £4m (€ 4.9m) of private sector funding to deliver energy saving insulation measures to residential homes in North Tyneside.

Following the successful conclusion of the review of the Council’s arrangements with SITA UK, a recycling and resource management company, the Council has a guaranteed diversion of at least 60,000 tonnes of waste from landfill each year, up to a maximum of 75,000 tonnes from 2013. At least 45,000 tonnes of the waste will be converted into electricity at SITA UK’s energy-from-waste facility at Tees Valley, with the rest recycled or composted.

Together with the kerbside recycling – around 16,000 tonnes of waste each year – only 12 per cent of the waste in the borough will go to landfill, significantly reducing the carbon footprint of North Tyneside’s waste disposal.

We are also actively exploring partnership working with a number of private sector companies in the application of geothermal energy. The borough of North Tyneside is located directly above the geological fault line and therefore is better placed than any other regional political administrative area to utilise geothermal energy.

In this context, we have identified the opportunity to provide heat energy to local schools, commercial buildings and a local hospital.

This is an example of our dynamic approach to delivering the objectives of the Sustainable Energy Action Plan – although this project isn’t included in the original plan, it is considered as a new opportunity and will be progressed as such.

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  The sole responsibility for the content of this newsletter lies with the Covenant of Mayors Office. It does not necessary reflect the opinion of the European Union. The European Commission is not responsible for any use that may be made of the information contained therein. The Covenant of Mayors was set up with financial support of the European Commission and consists of five associations of European local authorities: Energy Cities, Climate Alliance, Eurocities, CEMR, Fedarene, and ICLEI Europe.

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