Revealed: Carbon emissions in Norfolk mapped by neighbourhood
- Credit: Centre for Research into Energy Demand Solutions
Rural Norfolk communities are among the worst in England for vehicle carbon emissions, sparking concerns the county's love of "gas guzzlers" could be stoking the flames of climate breakdown.
A place-based carbon calculator, produced by the Centre for Research into Energy Demand Solutions, looks at a single year in carbon emissions across England to help policy makers understand where their community's footprint comes from, and how they can bring it down.
The latest-available statistics are for 2018.
But according to many local climate activists, the picture presented by the recent UN report — warning of extreme heatwaves, droughts and flooding if temperatures continue to rise — shows the situation is only getting worse.
Each neighbourhood on the map has an emissions grade from A+ (low emissions) to F- (high emissions) in comparison to England's average.
In Norfolk in 2018, much of the county ranked F+ or lower for car driving emissions, with some areas, such as All Saints & Wayland, in the worst 1pc nationally.
Prospering rural communities, remoter communities and ageing rural communities are among the worst 10pc in England for their total emissions grade (worked out by averaging a selection of "footprints" such as car driving, flights, heating, consumption of goods and services and the number of cars per person).
Those with the worst emissions include affluent neighbourhoods such as Easton, Plumstead, Brooke, Cromwells and North and South Wootton, but also remoter areas in Lothingland, Tasburgh, Great Witchingham and Maltishall.
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Norwich City Councillor for the Greens, Denise Carlo, said the picture made for "uncomfortable reading", and that it was time for Norfolk's politicians to "confront reality and stop promoting policies adding to dangerous climate breakdown".
She said: "We're clearly a very long way from cutting carbon emissions to zero.
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"In fact, we're going in the opposite direction by building more roads which simply allow traffic emissions to grow — like the three A47 dualling schemes and the Western Link around Norwich alone.
"There's been a big increase in bigger and heavier cars on the road network and parked on people's driveways across Norfolk. But there's no excuse for buying big gas guzzlers for ordinary everyday journeys."
"At the same time", she added, "coastal communities in places like Great Yarmouth are exceptionally vulnerable to rising sea levels, storms and surges."
But Norfolk County Council said the figures showed Norfolk was in line with other rural counties in England — and that while there are pockets where figures are higher than the national average, there are areas "well below" the national average too.
Martin Wilby, cabinet member for highways, infrastructure and transport, said: "To help achieve our ambitious pledge of net zero carbon by 2030, our new transport plan has a carbon-cutting commitment at its heart.
"Alongside limiting impacts on the environment our aim is to support Norfolk's economy, and ensure our communities are set up to cope with planned growth.
"Rural bus services feature heavily in the plan as it's acknowledged that connections to essential services and facilities remain a challenge, especially in rural areas."
Chris Dady, chairman of the Norfolk branch of the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE), said: "The problem is that Norfolk's leaders have it in their heads that this is a 'car county'.
"But that assumption stems from the fact our council and MPs have absolutely no idea what to do next."
He said their "ignorance" on climate change was shown by the fact the Greater Norwich Local Plan suggested house-building be more spread out across the county — despite those places being completely disconnected from transport networks.
"There's no joined-up thinking" he said. "For example, there was an issue in Sheringham where a bus that takes you along the coast left five minutes before the train arrived. What good is that?
"With the Norwich Distributor Road, too, the council installed only one crossing for cyclists, and it doesn't exactly make them feel secure.
"We need to change policy drastically and quickly because the UN report shows the world really isn't in a good place right now."
You can explore the carbon map by visiting: https://www.carbon.place/