While we would be grateful if candidates could answer all questions given the overwhelming importance of climate change and biodiversity breakdown, we appreciate that for various reasons you may not be able to complete the survey in full. If so, please focus on the questions you feel are of greatest concern. You can always add more information later if you wish.
1. As an elected member of NYC you would be responsible for overseeing the county’s decarbonisation strategy. How well do you understand basic climate change science and the risks here in NY and more widely? If necessary, will you complete carbon literacy training as a priority if elected?
2. The NY Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) has drafted a regional decarbonisation plan (Routemap to Carbon Negative) that sets out measures to cut greenhouse gas emissions across North Yorkshire. The plan is currently out for consultation. Have you read the draft plan, and do you support the proposals? What changes would you like to see, if any?
3. Transport makes up the largest proportion of emissions in North Yorkshire (2.0 MtCO2/yr). In your view, how should the new NY Council tackle this most effectively?
4. The second largest carbon emissions come from domestic uses. The NY Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) decarbonisation plan proposes retrofitting 250,000 homes (including insulation and heat pumps) to reach Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) grade C or better in order to reduce energy demand in buildings and therefore emissions. Would you actively support this goal? Does it go far enough? Any other ideas on reducing domestic energy use and emissions?
5. Agriculture (0.2 MtCO2/yr) contributes to the county’s emissions but can also be part of the solution. What do you see as the best way(s) to reduce emissions in this sector?
6. Hydrogen has many potential applications, e.g. transport, industry and heating. It is more suited to some than others. Do you support using hydrogen as part of the decarbonisation plan? If so, which applications should be prioritised?
7. Many politicians support net zero commitments, but some have argued that “green” measures to protect the environment and climate are too expensive, will cost jobs and need to be delayed. Where do you stand on this?
8. As we seek more energy independence nationally, what role is there in our region for onshore wind, solar farms and fracking?
9. How could the future NYC use its powers under the planning system to support its zero carbon ambition and promote sustainable development? Should NYC permit any new carbon-intensive development proposals?
10. Large areas of North Yorkshire are peatland. According to the Yorkshire Wildlife Trust, “For thousands of years, peatlands have stretched across Yorkshire. We are at risk of losing them forever.” What actions should the new NYC take, in partnership with the Yorkshire Dales and North York Moors National Parks, to protect this vital habitat and maximise the use of peatland as a carbon sink?
11. What steps should the new council take to minimise waste, reduce plastic pollution and build a circular economy?
12. The NY LEP decarbonisation plan proposes doubling the current area of woodland in the region. Would you actively support this target? What do you think is the best way to achieve it?
13. Where do you stand on negative emissions technologies such as Bioenergy with Carbon Capture and Storage (BECCS) and Direct Air Capture (DAC)? How much do you think we can or should rely on these technologies to help cut our emissions?
14. Drax Group’s biomass power station near Selby imports wood pellets harvested from forests in the US, Canada and eastern Europe. It receives £2m per day in subsidies. Do you support or oppose Drax’s plans and why?
15. Will you sign the UK Divest Pledge: “If elected, I pledge to support the council divesting its pension fund out of fossil fuels and redirecting those amounts into sustainable investments and the local economy over an appropriate time-scale. I promise to do everything in my power to make sure this happens within the first year of my term in office." Please explain why (not).
16. Nature and biodiversity. A Local Nature Recovery Strategy will be developed for North Yorkshire over the next couple of years. What do you think are the key priorities for inclusion in this strategy?
17. Finance. The proposals set out in the NY LEP plan are designed to help NY achieve net zero by 2034 and be carbon-negative by 2040, but this will require a lot of investment. The new unitary authority will have a substantial budget. Would you broadly support the proposals as an investment priority for the new council?
18. The government has just published its new energy security strategy. What’s your view of the strategy? What do you think should be the priority areas for achieving energy security in the UK? Should we focus more on reducing demand for energy?
19. Most districts/boroughs in NY and around 75% across the UK have declared a climate emergency. In your view, should the new NYC adopt a similar motion to underpin its decarbonisation and planning policies?
20. Is there anything else you’d like to add on your environmental or climate views? What would your future priorities be in your division and more widely in North Yorkshire?