Underwater robots to emergencies - how green is Norfolk and Waveney?

Loose nuts on sale at Ernie's Zero Waste, a plastic free, container free, ethical food store. Pictur

Loose nuts on sale at Ernie's Zero Waste, a plastic free, container free, ethical food store. Picture: Ella Wilkinson

From recycling to cutting down on our carbon footprint, most of us know there's more we can do to help save the planet.

But what are Norfolk and Waveney's green credentials - and what more could we be doing? Lauren Fitchett investigates.

Garden waste collections will return to normal in East Suffolk on Monday, September 28. Picture: Chris Bishop

Recycling bins outside properties in Norfolk. - Credit: Archant

What are recycling rates?

According to Norfolk Recycles, a partnership of Norfolk’s county, district, borough and city councils, the overall household recycling rate around the county is 44.4pc.

Government statistics, published earlier this year but covering 2019, show that figure nationally was 46.2pc.

For 2020/21, the local figures in Norfolk were as follows:

Breckland Council: 38.6pc

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Broadland District Council: 49pc

Great Yarmouth Borough Council: 29.2pc

King's Lynn and West Norfolk: 38pc

North Norfolk District Council: 40.7pc

Norwich City Council: 38.3pc

South Norfolk Council: 41.8pc

What are our councils doing?

Norwich City Council has traditionally had more Green Party members than others, and earlier this year Broadland District Council welcomed its first two Green councillors after a by-election.

In October, Former Norwich city councillor Adrian Ramsay was elected as co-leader of the Green Party.

Several of the county's councils have - or are in the process of - declaring climate emergencies.

This officially states the body recognises that humanity is in a climate emergency, with the first declaration made by a local government globally in 2016.

In May 2019, the UK became the first country in the world to declare an emergency.

Locally, North Norfolk District Council became the first council to do so, with East Suffolk Council, Norwich City Council Breckland Council following suit the same year.

In September this year, the Borough Council of King's Lynn and West Norfolk became the latest council to declare one.

Norfolk County Council, Broadland and South Norfolk Councils are yet to do so. 

However, there are other ways for authorities to show their green credentials - most have policies around funding to make homes greener, promoting green space, minimising waste going to landfill and many others.

Cata Parrish from Re.Source, a new zero waste general store and cafe on Timberhill in central Norwic

Cata Parrish from Re.Source in Norwich. - Credit: Archant

Where can I shop zero waste?

There are a growing number of zero waste and eco-friendly shops around Norfolk.

Many are concentrated in Norwich - including the Re.Source zero waste shop on the city's Timber Hill, which stocks plastic-free products including dry goods, household staples and vegetables.

The Green Grocers, on Earlham Road, encourages shoppers to bring containers to stock up on pantry staples such as rice, pasta, muesli, nuts and seeds. 

Ethical Ernie, on Anglia Square, is plastic-free, and you can pick up plenty of produce from Norwich Market without the packaging.

The Green Grocers, Earlham House, Earlham Road, Norwich, have seen an increase in custom since lockd

The Green Grocer on Earlham Road in Norwich. - Credit: Archant

Rainbow Wholefoods, on Davey Place, sells packaging-free soap, bamboo toothbrushes and plastic-free sanitary wear.

Further afield, Norfolk Natural Living in Holt's Shirehall Plain allows customers to refill bottles with its products, while its packaging is 100pc recyclable.

Green Dreaming, on Stanley Road in Great Yarmouth, says it aims to make the world a greener place and sells products which are kinder to the environment, recyclable and reusable.

The Green Parrot, on the Market Place, boasts a refill room with products including rice, hazelnuts, figs and raisins.

How have our MPs voted on green issues?

Last October, MPs debated an amendment supported by the opposition which would require ministers to have "due regard to the target of net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050" when taking actions, including setting up agricultural subsidy schemes.

Agriculture is one of the region's biggest industries. All of Norfolk and Waveney's MPs voted against the amendment, apart from Norwich South Labour MP Clive Lewis.

In May 2016, the Commons debated a policy which would have placed an obligations on housebuilders to achieve zero-carbon developments.

Those not in favour said it would add thousands to build costs and continue the housing crisis.

MPs in their seats at the time - Conservatives Brandon Lewis, in Great Yarmouth, George Freeman, Mid Norfolk, Richard Bacon, South Norfolk, Elizabeth Truss, South West Norfolk, and Chloe Smith, Norwich North - voted to defeat the plans, and scrap the obligation.

Duncan Baker, Conservative candidate in North Norfolk. Picture: SUPPLIED BY THE CANDIDATE

Duncan Baker, Conservative candidate in North Norfolk. Picture: SUPPLIED BY THE CANDIDATE - Credit: Archant

Both Jerome Mayhew, MP in Broadland, and Duncan Baker in North Norfolk are on the Environmental Audit Committee, though, many of our MPs have been involved with the COP26 events and others have called for changes to stop repeat flooding in parts of Norfolk and Waveney.

County's science contribution

Norfolk is home to innovative scientists, including at the John Innes Centre and Quadram Institute in Norwich.

Work includes oceanographers at the University of East Anglia (UEA) using underwater robots to watch interactions between the sea and the atmosphere which determines the climate around the world.

And a joint effort by EarthSystemData Ltd with the UEA recently produced a mobile app that allows people to explore how global warming will affect the future climate of their towns and cities. The free to download ‘ESD Research’ app enables anyone to access the latest temperature and rainfall projections for their area.

To see more ways they are shaping our future, click this link.

The University of East Anglia is renowned around the world for it's prestigious MA in creative writi

The University of East Anglia in Norwich. - Credit: Archant

What are the risks of climate change to Norfolk and Waveney?

There is incentive for people in the area to be eco-minded - swathes of our county are coastal, with large areas not too high above sea level.


There have been several warnings in recent years that parts could face significant flooding by 2030.

While they vary in details and severity, many indicate there would be flooding around the Broads, Great Yarmouth and Waveney way, as well as in west Norfolk.

The EDP says...

It’s easy to feel overwhelmed when it comes to the so-called ‘green agenda’ and ways to help protect our planet.
It’s such a big subject, that it can be hard to know where to start. 
There are probably millions of people out there who have so far made little effort to change the way they live and lead a greener lifestyle.
Perhaps it seems too hard, the realities, stresses and strains of day-to-day life make it seem like something else you would have to worry about.
Maybe people feel like there is little impact they can have as individuals, when the planet is so large and you are such a tiny proportion of it.
But the message from this point on has to be that one person very much can make a difference and all of us need to wake up to the challenge ahead - and find ways in our day to day life that we can rise to it.
And that is very much the message of this newspaper’s ‘Time To Do Our Bit’ call to arms, which is launching today.
Over the next few months and years we will do our bit to try and highlight simple, everyday, life tweaks that, if all of us were to do them, could really make a significant impact.
In our newspaper centre spreads today we have outlined 52 things that most of us could do to aid the environment.
Why not pull it out of the paper, stick it on a wall and engage your family and friends to do the same?
Make it a competition and provide small rewards for every time you make a significant leap.
Going green doesn’t have to be a struggle and doesn’t have to feel like a chore. But it does desperately need to be done. Our wonderful planet depends on you! 

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