A group of rural councils, including ourselves, have joined forces to set up the Countryside Climate Network (CCN) to be the voice of the countryside in the climate change debate.
The network comprises 21 councils from every region of England with a mission to highlight the fact that rural communities are often at the frontline of feeling the effects of climate change and should get more support from government in recognition of this. They also want to bring their rural knowledge and experience on climate change to the table debunking the myth that the countryside is peripheral to the economy and climate change.
Two thirds of people in England live outside the major towns and cities and they often face more barriers to switching to more sustainable living than their urban counterparts. Public transport is less frequent and usually more expensive. Many rural households don’t have access to gas, and oil-fired central heating is more costly.
Rural areas have been suffering the effects of climate change on agriculture and in local flooding.
These and other factors are coupled with the fact that the rural local authorities often have lower budgets and face funding rules which favour urban concentrations.
This has prompted the Countryside Climate Network to ask for a larger share of the £100 billion infrastructure fund that government has allocated for this parliament towards its target of achieving net zero carbon emissions by 2050. The group wants this fund to support the ambitions of rural areas and the opportunities our countryside and green infrastructure can provide citing many innovative projects that are already underway.
Our Cabinet Member for Clean Growth and Regeneration, Councillor Tony King, said:
“We believe Derbyshire’s innovative response to climate change will be of great value to the alliance. Together we can shine a light on the unique challenges we face in comparison to our urban counterparts and push rural issues higher up the national agenda, lobbying for greater support to bring about the radical change needed to truly make a difference on climate change.”
The Countryside Climate Network has been established under the umbrella of UK100, a network of local leaders that campaigns on climate change. The 21 councils in CCN represent 14.3 million people in total, a quarter of the population (25%) and two fifths (41%) of England by area.
Polly Billington, Director of UK100, said:
“Climate change affects every area and every person, and rural towns and villages can be more vulnerable to the impacts, such as extreme weather. Countryside councils are well placed to tackle climate change and meet the needs and ambitions of their communities for economic recovery and better health and wellbeing, with innovative solutions along with the democratic legitimacy to deliver lasting change.”