Tees Valley and County Durham are home to beautiful countryside, coastal habitats, peat and wetlands, rivers, hills and lowlands. But the area is also home to 60 per cent of the UK’s energy-intensive industry - Tees Valley’s carbon emissions are currently three times higher than the UK average.
Our jurors in Tees Valley and County Durham want to see the industrial assets of the area used to support nature and the natural assets given the space and protection they need to thrive. The past and future of the area is written across the landscape. The historic coal mines of County Durham now provide opportunities for heat generation and sites that could provide new spaces for wildlife. The peatlands, woods and marine habitats of the region have the potential to capture and store carbon.
Our jurors want to make more green spaces accessible, whilst protecting them from damage. This would be aided by lifelong learning about climate and nature, starting in school and then within communities. They call for an ‘Attenborough Scholarship’ – to encourage young people into low carbon jobs. They want the public to be educated on their responsibilities as well as rights. But it’s not just about individuals; business and government must do their bit, such as requiring developers to make a ‘net gain’ on nature wherever they’re building.