Lancashire County Council has committed to a plan that will see it invest £2.5m in delivering three low-carbon projects and a further £200,000 to explore the potential offered by four others.
One of the latter schemes includes assessing how to make the Lancashire Central development at Cuerden a showcase for “innovative and exemplary” zero carbon technologies. The site, which is currently being built close to the junction of the M65 and M6, will include logistics, warehousing and industrial space - and is expected to create around 3,000 jobs.
Depending on the outcome of a £50,000 “opportunity study”, it could become the focus of a project to deliver a joined-up strategy encompassing the generation, consumption and storage of low or zero carbon energy.
The largest single investment in the overall package of measures - which was approved at a meeting of the county council’s cabinet - will be the £1m being put into a grant scheme to enable medium-sized businesses to retrofit their existing operations with cleaner sources of power. That will include a push to support rural businesses - which are most likely not to be on the gas network - to move away from using oil for heating.
Cabinet member for environment and climate change Shaun Turner said that it would be “one of the biggest things [we can do] that reduces our carbon footprint”.
His cabinet colleague Cosima Towneley added that Lancashire’s “linear villages” gave it an advantage by enabling the necessary piping to be run off the main highway network.
Meanwhile, £450,000 will be spent on electric car charging points at the under-construction Samlesbury Enterprise Zone. Charging facilities will also be amongst a range of energy efficiency measures introduced at the White Cross Business Park in Lancaster, for which a total of £950,000 has been earmarked.
The car charging kit at that site will be available for shared use by residents and workers and, although not officially proposed in the plan given the green light by cabinet, County Cllr Turner said a similar scheme was being explored for the car park at County Hall in Preston. It would provide charging points outside of office hours for those living in terrace houses in the city, where it is not possible to install off-street charging infrastructure at individual properties.
The county council resolved late last year to shift Lancashire away from a carbon-based economy by 2030.
“We’ve got to get real about this - it’s a massive target and...what we need to do is off the scale,” County Cllr Turner said.
The authority will also be exploring how it can retrofit its own buildings across the county to make them less carbon dependent and will assess the option of introducing solar-powered streetlighting, potentially concentrating on rural areas.
Cabinet member for highways and transport Charlie Edwards welcomed the countryside focus of the proposed scheme.
“We talk a lot about how we can decarbonise the urban parts of Lancashire, [but] not enough about the rural areas, where there is a real need. So the idea of us having all-new streetlighting...as part of a wider rural road strategy - which is about making sure these roads are safer, better quality and obviously well lit - is fantastic,” County Cllr Edwards added.
The cabinet meeting also heard that previous plans to introduce solar panels and heat pump technology at libraries in Leyland, Garstang and Coal Clough in Burnley are still set to go ahead, but will require the temporary closure of the buildings at a less busy time of year.