Carbon Management Plan 2022

Carbon sequestration, biodiversity and offsetting

Carbon sequestration and biodiversity

North Northamptonshire has a rich and diverse green environment, much of which is directly managed by the council. Our Corporate Plan sets out our strategic priority to create a greener, sustainable environment. And our ownership of fantastic green space puts us in an excellent position to deliver on this, through biodiversity improvements, such as the council’s recently adopted Pollinator Strategy and and Tree Management and Care Policy.

For North Northamptonshire Council to become carbon neutral, carbon sequestration will be important, as it is currently impossible to eliminate all carbon emissions. Carbon sequestration is the process of capturing, securing and storing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. The aim is to make this carbon stable by keeping it in solid or dissolved forms so that it doesn’t cause the atmosphere to warm up.

North Northamptonshire Council manages 5 former landfill sites that produce carbon emissions. These sites need careful ongoing monitoring to reduce their environmental impact. As the landfill waste decomposes, it produces methane. Methane is a greenhouse gas which is 28 times more potent than carbon dioxide. However, over time these emissions have decreased, and this will continue.

At the moment, it is almost impossible to reduce these methane emissions to zero. This is because, currently, there is no technological development to support this. However, by 2020, we forecast that emissions from the former landfill sites will be circa 4,000 tonnes CO2e per year. Therefore, it is crucial that the council explore carbon sequestration options to support meetings it 2030 target.

Biological carbon sequestration involves storing carbon dioxide in vegetation, like grasslands or forests, and our green environment provides the perfect opportunity to both improve our environment, support biodiversity and sequester carbon. Whilst the data behind how much carbon woodland projects can sequester over their lifetime is complex, typically a tree will absorb 1 tonne of carbon dioxide over its lifetime, which would make tree planting to offset all carbon emissions impractical. Carbon sequestration is not the solution, but it is an important element of the council's goal.

We are already making inroads in this area, through our annual tree planting programme and woodland improvement projects. We are also commencing a Woodland Accelerator project aiming to plant 10,000 trees per year and build on partnerships such as the Local Nature Partnership, Rockingham Forest Vision Group, as well as produce North Northamptonshire’s Local Nature Recovery Strategy. All the above will support our ambition of creating and expanding new woodlands, parks and greenspaces to help reduce our carbon impact and support our local environment.

Short term (1 to 2 years)

  • Establish a project team responsible for delivering carbon sequestration
  • Identify local authority assets suitable for biodiversity and carbon sequestration
  • Work with partners to identify funding opportunities for large scale sequestration projects
  • Identify total number of trees that could be planted on suitable sites.

Medium term (2 to 5 years)

  • Plant pilot site(s)
  • Encourage local private and public funded initiatives, which would need to be certified (e.g. housing developers and local charities).

Long term (5 years plus)

  • Create new, certified, sustainable woodlands
  • Continue programme of tree planting to maximise ongoing carbon sequestration.

Carbon offsetting

In order to support our goal of being carbon neutral by 2030, we must look at how we offset our carbon use. North Northamptonshire Council’s strategy relies on the council generating some of its own energy, in order to meet this aim. More specifically, we will be supporting and finding energy systems for key services of the council, and the council’s supply chain.

This would include employing renewable energy sources in our estate, as detailed in the buildings section of the plan, or large-scale renewable energy sites. This strategy would allow the council to offset a large proportion of the carbon we are producing and provides the opportunity for the council to sell the energy produced to organisations locally.

There are a number of risks associated with such schemes, such as capital investment, sign up to the private wire or grid access agreements, however it does present an opportunity for the council to mitigate other risks such as the ever-changing energy prices we are seeing in the current economic climate.

Therefore, subject to financial appraisal and approval, the council will investigate running pilot schemes which will provide the basis and reasoning for a large-scale roll-out of these systems. Such test programmes will form the basis and design of the scheme for contractual requirements.

Short term (1 to 2 years)

  • Establish a project team and officer responsible for delivering carbon offsetting
  • Pilot Solar PV technology at sites to demonstrate payback and impact
  • ​​​​​​​Review potential for wider benefit for community and business sector energy schemes

Medium term (2 to 5 years)

Implement Large scale renewable energy schemes, subject to appraisal and approval:

  • Phase 1: Solar photovoltaic panels
  • Phase 2: Heat generation
  • Phase 3: District energy scheme in Corby.

Long term (5 years plus)

  • New renewable energy funding model available for council partners.

Last updated 05 January 2023