COP 26: What progress has Wigan made with its green initiatives so far?
As the Cop26 summit in Glasgow reaches its final few days, the Government’s long-awaited net zero strategy, outlining plans to meet legal targets to end its contribution to climate change by 2050, has been published.
Among the key policies are an expansion of the electric vehicle network and new measures to encourage renewable heating in homes.
We’ve taken a look at the progress made on green initiatives in Wigan so far.
Electric vehicle charging
The Government’s net zero strategy included an announcement of £620m for electric vehicle grants to support the roll-out of charging infrastructure nationally.
Figures show Wigan is behind many other parts of Great Britain with the pace of its EV charging point roll-out.
Statistics from the Department for Transport show there were 40 public charging points in the area at the start of October – up from 31 a year before.
But at a rate of 12 per 100,000 people, this is well below the UK average, of 39.
Since October 2019 – when figures began at local authority level – the number of devices in Wigan has risen by 12.
Across the UK, an additional 10,800 devices were made available over the same period, taking the total number to 25,900 by October.
Households will also be able to benefit from £5,000 government grants to install low-carbon heating systems as part of plans to cut emissions from homes.
The £450m Boiler Upgrade Scheme – which opens from April next year – will help homeowners to swap their gas boiler for a more efficient air source heat pump.
It will launch at the same time as a similar programme, the Renewable Heat Incentive, closes to new applicants.
People who join the domestic version of the RHI receive quarterly payments for the amount of clean, green renewable heat it is estimated their system produces.
Data from the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy shows 94,000 renewable heating systems had been installed across Great Britain through RHI by the end of September – 15 per cent more than September 2020.
Of these, 332 have been installed in Wigan, helping to pay for 16,080 megawatts per hour of energy.
That is an increase of three on the 329 systems installed by September last year, meaning Wigan is moving at a slower pace than the national average.
An extension to the Energy Company Obligation scheme, which aims to reduce carbon emissions and help people at risk of fuel poverty by making energy firms install heat-saving measures, has also been announced.
BEIS data shows 2.3 million homes across Great Britain had been fitted with ECO measures by the end of June – with 16,755 of these in Wigan.
The net zero plans also include other multi-million pound investments to develop new clean technologies, help green hydrogen projects get off the ground and create woodland.
Officials insisted the strategy will deliver on commitments to cut greenhouse gases by 68 per cent by 2030.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson said: “The UK’s path to ending our contribution to climate change will be paved with well-paid jobs, billions in investment and thriving green industries, powering our green industrial revolution across the country.”
But Rebecca Newsom, Greenpeace UK’s head of politics, said the plans are “more like a pick and mix than the substantial meal that we need to reach net zero”, and ignore the need to reduce meat and dairy consumption.