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RSN Members explore Rural Decarbonisation

Over 75 members of the Rural Services Network last week came together to discuss the issues surrounding Rural Decarbonisation at one of the seminars organised and hosted by the RSN

The seminar forms part of the RSN Seminar programme where 9 seminars will take place throughout the year all focused on different elements of the Revitalising Rural Campaign. www.rsnonline.org.uk/revitalising-rural. These seminars are part of the service delivered solely to the membership of the RSN.

The RSN recognises the importance of Decarbonisation and the campaign towards net zero. 

The impacts of dangerous climate change will affect all communities. This much is already clear from the rural impacts of increasingly frequent storm damage, flood events and periods of drought. Minimising man-made climate change matters as much to rural communities and businesses as it does to any others.

Rural areas, which host more than a sixth of England’s population and which cover most of its land area, must play their full part if the UK is to rapidly reduce its carbon footprint and achieve its net zero target.  An approach focussed on urban areas alone would fail.

There are opportunities as well as challenges for rural areas that arise from the decarbonisation agenda.  There will, for example, be growth sectors in the green economy and new opportunities for community enterprise.

To find out more about the RSN’s asks of Government for Rural Decarbonisation view our asks at this link.

Four different presentations were made at the seminar including:

  • Dr Emily Prestwood, Energy Development Manager, Birmingham Energy Institute/Birmingham University talking about Heat, energy from waste and hydrogen and the opportunities for rural communities and economies
  • Mark Davies, Director for Communities and Environment, Lancaster City Council talking about Lancaster City Council’s 2030 Net Zero Plans and Progress
  • Stuart Easterbrook, Future Gas Strategy Manager, Cadent talking about The Future Role for Gas and Decarbonising Heat
  • Karen Barrass, Policy and Research Manager, UK100 talking about the Countryside Climate Network

Key points noted were as follows:

  • Discussion around off gas grid rural properties and the challenges of making them more energy efficient.
  • Importance for organisations such as Local Authorities to understand their data and baseline emissions before being able to make change.
  • A future energy system incorporating both hydrogen and heat pumps is likely to have the lowest whole system cost but customer preferences will be key to heat decarbonisation. Neither hydrogen or heat pumps will be the right solution for all rural properties and others options must be available
  • There are constraints currently to rural net zero, around underfunding, higher costs of delivery and a one size fits all approach.

Graham Biggs, Chief Executive of Rural Services Network said:

"We are delighted to have a range of speakers at this seminar, as it is vital that rural areas are not left behind as the country moves towards net zero.  We need different approaches and considerations for rural areas and would welcome targeted support such as specific objectives to support low carbon and net zero growth in Economic Growth Programmes."

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