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Green Mayoral Candidate : Sustainable Homes

“My aim is for North Tyneside Borough to become a beacon of good practice and innovative thinking in the North East“ Penny Remfry, Green Party Candidate for Elected Mayor.

We need to tackle climate change urgently, and we all have a part to play in this. Our homes produce around 30% of carbon emissions in North Tyneside. Gas central heating is the main contributor. In order to meet our carbon neutral target we will have to replace our heating systems with alternative fuel systems and improve the insulation in our homes.

This is going to be expensive for home owners and landlords with housing for private rent. Local authorities will be responsible for their own buildings, but there won’t be any funds left over for supporting local residents.

Penny says: “The government must step in here – so far they have failed miserably in providing the financial support needed to meet their target of net carbon zero by 2050. They launched the Green Homes Grant in September last year which was supposed to retrofit 19 million homes through grants to homeowners – but then scrapped it a few weeks ago. One of the problems was lack of skilled workers able to undertake the installations and insulation.”

North Tyneside Council can help solve this problem. The Council has its own housing and will have to provide training to Council employees, so that they have the skills and knowledge to do the work involved in replacing boilers, better insulation and home energy generation to offset energy use. This training could support the development of a larger pool of skilled workers ready to undertake this work in private homes.

Penny explains: “There is much talk of ‘Building Back Better’ after the pandemic. This is one really important way of doing so, by creating hundreds of skilled and well paid jobs which are needed to make our homes less carbon hungry and more energy efficient.”

Penny has the vision to create a ‘sustainable living’ advice centre in the borough. This would help residents to make decisions about what they needed to do with their homes, and what financial support was available. It would also give advice about other related issues: energy generation, water conservation, environmental improvements, recycling and re-purposing, community-based projects and more depending upon what local people need.

Penny says: “The Council could kick-start a centre like this, but in the long term it would need to be independent. I am sure that it could become financially independent eventually as local businesses begin to benefit from the increased work coming their way and with other support.”

Reaching the net zero carbon target within the next decade or so will be a huge undertaking for all of us, and we will all be involved in one way or another.

Penny notes: “Making our homes energy efficient is just one aspect of reducing our collective carbon footprint. We will have to change the way we travel, as well, and many people are already thinking more about where their food comes from and how it is produced. And because of the lockdown people have been going outside more and appreciating the benefits that our beautiful environment have for our wellbeing, and we can do more of that.”

We are living in exciting times. We have seen how quickly life can change because of the pandemic, and the role science and technology can play to make our lives better. Responding to the climate emergency and adapting to the changes which will have to take place gives us the opportunity to tackle some of the big issues like poverty and income disparity at the same time, making life better for all of us.

If elected, Penny is committed to making the Council much more proactive in preparing us for the changes we have to make so that by 2030 we are well on the way to becoming net carbon zero.

“My aim is for North Tyneside Borough to become a beacon of good practice and innovative thinking in the North East. We can do that – we have the potential, so let’s get on with the job.”