Rochdale Council one of most climate-friendly in Greater Manchester

Date published: 07 October 2019

Rochdale has one of the most climate-friendly councils in Greater Manchester, according to new research by Friends of the Earth.

The green group assessed councils in different categories including renewable energy, public transport, lift-sharing, energy efficiency at home, waste recycling, and tree cover, with Rochdale scoring a respectable 72%.

The research shows that in the Rochdale borough, 42% of emissions come from housing, 26% from transport, and 32% are industrial and commercial emissions.

Researchers at the Tyndall Centre in Manchester University say that Rochdale should reduce emissions by at least 13% per year.

The findings show just over one-third of homes (37%) are well insulated in Rochdale whilst 13% of households in the area are in fuel poverty, where they cannot afford to heat their homes.

Friends of the Earth recommend insulating 5,416 homes and installing 3,173 eco-heating systems, such as heat pumps each year in the borough, to combat this.

In Rochdale only 12% of people commute by public transport, 1% cycle, and 10% walk. Friends of the Earth suggests Rochdale has a target of 60% of people commuting by public transport, cycling, and walking by 2030.

It says Rochdale should have a minimum of 90 charging stations for electricvehicles, and increase staff car-sharing to 40% at major employers.

According to the government's National Forest Inventory, 5% of the Rochdale area is woodland, which should be increased to 20%.

Currently the Rochdale area has 13MW of renewable power, but should have plans to increase to at least 75MW.

To give an indication of what this means in practice, the average onshore wind turbine in Europe is 2.7MW and a 25-acre solar farm will produce about 5MW of electricity. On average, 1MW of renewable power produces enough energy for around 125 homes.

Rochdale reuses, recycles and composts 48% of its household waste, but should have plans for this to hit 70% by 2025.

The green group also says the council should stop supporting or promoting new high carbon infrastructure, such as roads or airports, and stop investing the Greater Manchester Pension fund in fossil fuels.

Councillor Allen Brett, leader of Rochdale Borough Council, said: “Through a range of pioneering policies, we are one of the best performing councils in the region for tackling climate change.

“Our proactive initiatives include changing streetlights to energy efficient models, building a new solar farm, a visionary eco-business scheme and replacing gas guzzling vehicles with eco-friendly ones. We have also doubled our recycling rates, declared a climate emergency and committed to being a carbon neutral borough.

“That is a record to be proud of, but there is more to do and as leader of the council, I will continue to lead the way in ensuring climate change issues are at the top of the political agenda locally and nationally.”

Estelle Worthington, North West regional campaigner for Friends of the Earth, said: “The bottom line is that we have to act in line with the scale of change needed because it’s our responsibility to hand on a better environment for the next generation.

“All local authorities however they are performing need to ramp up what they are doing. We know we are facing a climate and ecological emergency that threatens our existence and the natural word. If we want to change things for the better, let’s start at home.

“Creating cleaner and greener places to live means healthier, happier lives. It’s why local authorities in our region need to adopt really ambitious local climate action plans, with help from local communities. And national government needs to get in gear and support local authorities to take action.”

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