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NNClimate21 - Climate Conference

Leading local thinkers on environmental strategy, renewable energy and sustainable transport came together for our virtual climate change conference, NNClimate21, on Tuesday 16 November.

Find out more about our presenters

Councillor Jason Smithers

Leader of the Council
North Northamptonshire Council

Councillor Jason Smithers began his political career in 2018 as a Councillor and is honoured to be the first Leader of the new North Northamptonshire Council.

North Northamptonshire is his home, and he is committed to leading the council in bringing real change to the area and creating the quality of services which will bring improvements to everyone’s lives.

Cllr Smithers is determined to bring increased prosperity to the council area, while at the same time ensuring we keep the vulnerable safe, protect the environment and ensure that the quality of people’s lives continues to improve.

Cllr Smithers is proactive, leading from the front, passionate about good services locally and bringing democracy back to a local level.

[email protected]

Councillor Harriet Pentland

Executive Member for Climate and Green Environment
North Northamptonshire Council

Harriet was elected to represent the Higham Ferrers ward on North Northamptonshire Council in May and shortly after was invited to join the Executive as the Executive Member for Climate and the Green Environment as part of NNC’s commitment to tackling climate change and protecting the environment. 

A life-long resident of North Northamptonshire, Harriet has always had an interest in climate change and what we can do to look after our planet, and remembers being an ‘eco-rep’ on her school’s council. She believes that our new council offers the opportunity to make real progress in addressing climate change locally which started with the Council declaring a Climate and Environment Emergency in July.

As part of this, Harriet has been encouraged to see the progress in delivering electric vehicle charging points, planting more trees and pursuing NNC’s commitment to reaching carbon neutrality amongst much more, but is mindful that there is still lots to be done at this critical time in the planet’s future.

[email protected]

Dr Chris Holt

Senior lecturer in Geography
University of Northampton

Presentation title: Your Future Climate

Chris Holt is a senior lecturer in geography at the University of Northampton, teaching on a range of modules including geographical techniques, geomorphology, water resources and weather and climate.

His research interests relate to water – too much (flooding), too little (drought) and water use within households.  He has looked at the climatology of the event leading to the 1998 flood, as well as the developing flood problem in the megacity of Lagos, Nigeria.  Earlier research on how water resources in Wales may be affected by climate change was used by the IPCC. 

[email protected]

Nick Bolton

Co-Founder of Electric Corby CIC, Development Director, SNRG
Electric Corby

Presentation title: Our 3D Energy Future

Nick has over 30 years’ experience promoting places, building brands and developing partnerships that deliver economic benefits for local communities.

As Head of Economic Development in Cambridge and then as Director of Investment & Marketing in North Northamptonshire, shaped and delivered economic growth, investment, and place marketing plans in some of the fastest growing local authority areas in the UK.

Nick co-founded Electric Corby community interest company in 2012 to accelerate the transition to a sustainable future delivering £15m of projects including Community Energy, EV Charging infrastructure and the next generation of net zero all-electric homes. Nick is now helping Electric Corby itself transition into Electric Places as the drive to net zero accelerates.

[email protected]

Simon Toseland

Director of Prop-Search and Advisor to Chelveston Renewable Energy Ltd
Chelveston Renewable Energy Park

Presentation title: Chelveston Renewable Energy and Innovation Park

Simon started his commercial property career with commercial property consultants Wilson & Partners in 1986. He stayed with the company through its evolution into Connell Wilson, working in London Docklands between 1991 and 1993 and then later (as a Director) heading up the North Northamptonshire region for Lambert Smith Hampton.

He joined Underwoods as a Partner in 1998 subsequently founding Prop-search in 2008. Simon has Chaired the Wellingborough Town Centre Partnership for a number of years and was instrumental in establishing the Wellingborough Town Centre BID. He is also a Board Director of River Nene Regional Park CiC, an Envoy for SEMLEP and was President of Wellingborough & East Northamptonshire Chamber of Commerce from 2018 to 2021. Simon remains a member of the Executive Committee for the Chamber in his role as Vice President and Public Sector Ambassador. 

Simon specialises in advising on commercial property development, renewable energy solutions advising, investment and agency.

[email protected]

Matthew Pencharz

Voi Head of Policy, UK, Ireland and Netherlands
Voi Technology

Presentation title: Micromobility delivering zero emission transport

Matthew Pencharz is Head of Policy for UK, Ireland and the Netherlands for Voi Technology, Europe’s largest shared micromobility operator, with schemes in 17 towns and cities in the UK.

Previously he served as Deputy Mayor of London for Environment & Energy under Boris Johnson, where he led the Greater London Authority’s environment, energy and sustainability work.

Matthew has also consulted to companies delivering solutions to the environmental issues he faced while Deputy Mayor.

[email protected]

Cecil Gray

Director of Business Development
Liberty Charge

Presentation title: Bringing E-Mobility Together

As a chartered town planner with an architectural background, Cecil has delivered several award-winning large scale development projects.

In recent years, Cecil has been at the forefront of EV charging infrastructure deployment, having worked with local authorities and ChargePoint operators to deliver thousands of public ChargePoints across the UK.

[email protected]

Alison Holland

Founder, Brightwayz social enterprise 

Presentation title: Let’s Act with Active Travel

[email protected]

Lucy Hawes

Community Partnerships Officer
North Northamptonshire Council

Presentation title:   The Greenway in North Northamptonshire

Feel like I have one of the best jobs in the world! Looking after the Greenway and developing it, working with various stakeholders and partners to improve and increase green infrastructure, previously across East Northamptonshire and now across the whole of North Northants. Challenging, yet very rewarding it throws many obstacles in my path, and gives the most amazing opportunities too to realise innovative solutions and work with communities to enhance what we already have in place.

This year we have won “Northamptonshire’s Best Exhibition from the Northamptonshire Heritage Forum for work done on the first section of Greenway that was opened in Rushden, so the variety of what I do, makes no two days the same!

 [email protected]

Graham Garratt

Bulwick Estate & Isis Forestry Ltd
Presentation title: Bulwick and Harringworth Estate Wilding Project

Graham is the director of Isis Forestry Ltd and is a chartered forester with nearly 30 year’s professional experience in woodland management.  Graham has a particular interest in woodland restoration and conservation and has worked for Bulwick Estates as its forestry agent since 1998.  

Graham also has an interest in rewilding and is studying for a PhD at the University of Nottingham, investigating the potential for rewilding in delivering forestry policy in lowland England and is professionally involved in several embryonic projects, including the wilding project at Bulwick Estates.

[email protected]

Rebecca Jenkins

Woodland Manager, Assets and Environment
North Northamptonshire Council  

Presentation title: Corby Woodland Project

Rebecca Jenkins is the Woodland Manager for North Northamptonshire Council and is currently responsible for the strategic development of the woodland project in Corby, an award-winning example of social forestry.

Having always had a keen interest in the outdoors, Rebecca studied Countryside Management at University Worcester before beginning her career in community development. In 2005 Rebecca was employed by the then Corby Borough Council, as Corby’s first Forest School Officer.

[email protected]

Kathryn Hardcastle

Chief Executive Officer
River Nene Regional Park

Presentation title: Building Local Resilience to Climate Change

Kathryn joined River Nene Regional Park (RNRP) in 2013 as CEO (part time). She is an experienced environmental scientist with highly developed skills in landscape scale projects and particular experience in managing and delivering complex stakeholder engagement processes. Away from RNRP, Kathryn volunteers her time with an international organisation working around Climate Adaptation and Deep Adaptation where she maintains a focus on supporting co-creation of initiatives to support individual and community resilience to our shared predicament.

[email protected]

Sarah Parr

Grounds Services Manager
North Northamptonshire Council  

Presentation title: Re-wilding and tree planting

Sarah has worked in local government for 18 years always in Grounds Maintenance and as the Grounds Services Manager. By trade, Sarah is a Landscape Architect and feels she has the most influence on the landscape whilst working in the team that maintains it.

Sarah works with a team of 65 gardeners, a tree gang, play-ground inspectors and specialist technical and development officers and they maintain and develop green space across half of North Northants. The over arching aim of the team is to seek the balance between what is good for the natural environment and what is good for our customers.

One of the most recent campaigns which concentrated on creating food and shelter for declining pollinators was recognised internationally as best environmental practice.

[email protected]

Event timetable

Introduction and reflection on COP26



Provisional Timings

Cllr Jason Smithers and Cllr Harriet Pentland

Leader of the Council,
North Northamptonshire Council

Executive Member for Climate and Green Environment,
North Northamptonshire Council

9.30am to 9.40am

Session 1: The future of energy and our climate (9.40am to 11am)

Speaker and topic


Provisional Timings

Dr Chris Holt
Your Future Climate

University of Northampton

9.40am to 10am

Nick Bolton
Our 3D Energy Future

Electric Corby

10am to 10.20am

Simon Toseland
Chelveston Renewable
Energy and Innovation

Chelveston Renewable Energy Park

10.20am to 10.40am

Panel discussion

All members of session 1

10.40am to 11am

Session 2: Sustainable travel – The way forward  (11.30am to 12.45pm)

Speaker and topic


Provisional Timings

Matthew Pencharz
delivering zero
emission transport

Voi Technology

11.30am to 11.45am

Cecil Gray
Bringing E-Mobility

Liberty Charge

11.45am to 12 noon

Alison Holland
Let’s Act with Active Travel


12 noon to 12.15pm

Lucy Hawes
The Greenway in

Greenway Project, NNC

12.15pm to 12.30pm


Panel discussion

All members of session 2

12.30pm to 12.45pm

Session 3: Celebrating and nurturing our environment (2pm to 3.30pm)

Speaker and topic


Provisional Timings

Graham Garratt
Bulwick and
Harringworth Estate
Wilding Project

Isis Forestry Ltd

2pm to 2.15pm

Rebecca Jenkins
Corby Woodland

Woodland Project, NNC

2.15pm to 2.30pm

Kathryn Hardcastle
Building Local Resilience to Climate Change

River Nene Regional Park

2.30pm to 2.45pm

Sarah Parr
Re-wilding and
tree planting

Re-wilding and tree planting, NNC

2.45pm to 3pm

Panel discussion

All members of session 3

3pm to 3.25pm

Closing Remarks

Speaker Organisation Provisional Timings

Cllr Harriet Pentland

Executive Member for Climate and Green Environment,
North Northamptonshire Council

3.25pm to 3.30pm

Questions raised by viewers of our climate conference

Strategy for electric vehicle charging points  

"Northampton, its surrounding towns, and the county is very poorly served by the Councils for electric vehicle charging points. Given that transport is a major source of Co2 emissions, and our present government has stated that the sale of petrol and diesel engine vehicles is banned in less than 9 years’ time, what are their current plans to address this issue? Surely our Council has a civic duty to the people they serve for this matter to be at the top of its agenda?"

Answer: NNC will be developing an EV strategy which will set out its approach to this issue. Currently the Council is part of the VPACH2 project. This is seeking to install EVCPs on-street in locations with no off-street parking. Seven sites are currently being progressed and will be live by end of 2021 providing 28 charging points. The Council is also exploring further locations with the aim to deploy more before the end of the project in March 2022.

Education and training

"What provisions in further education and vocational training are being made to improve the skills of the workforce and increase their numbers to enable them to design and install sustainable low and zero carbon technologies, for example, heat pump heating systems; retrofitted insulation to improve thermal performance of existing building stock; on site electrical generation such as PV panels?"

Answer: The Bedford College Group offer PV installation and domestic and commercial car charging point installation courses. They will also be looking at offering courses in retrofitting for Thermal insulation and other technologies for current building stock. They are currently reviewing their course offering to ensure that it meets the local needs for training in new technologies.

Solar photovoltaic (PV) systems

"As an Electrical supervisor for the Kettering area, I’m interested in PV systems and would like to find out: Does NNC plan to create budget for installing PV system on our domestic properties? Does NNC plan to create Solar infrastructure on our corporate properties such as Council buildings, block of flats, recreation buildings, etc? How can I get involved/help with any PV system related projects?"

Answer: NNC, as a social landlord, is committed to helping the Council achieve its green agenda, along with meeting national government targets for carbon reduction. To help achieve this the Property Services team will bid for external funding when it is available, to maximise our investment opportunities in energy saving and carbon reduction measures. Any additional funding will support the annual capital investment that we make in our stock. The Council has already invested in a PV system on two blocks of flats, as part of a wider remodelling project of this accommodation in Kettering. Corby have 207 PV systems fitted to their original stock with a further 44 installed on recent new builds. The learning from this project will be used to help formulate an NNC future strategy for the delivery of future energy saving and carbon reduction measures to our stock. Staff with the appropriate skills will be involved in any future delivery of PV systems on our Housing stock.

Sustainable development

"In line with the Council’s Sustainable Development ambitions described in the Joint Core Strategy, will the NNC improve the planning requirement’s Building Research Establishments Environmental Assessment Method (BREEAM) rating from ‘Very Good’ to ‘Excellent’?"

Answer: The current North Northamptonshire Joint Core Strategy of which Policy 9 requires development of non-residential floor space of over 1,000sqm to meet a BREEAM Very Good or equivalent standard is shortly to be reviewed and once completed, will become the North Northamptonshire Strategic Plan. All existing policies (including Policy 9) will be reviewed and new policies may also be introduced. A fundamental part of the review process will be to consider how the policies in the new Strategic Plan can make a positive contribution towards climate change and the Council’s commitment to leading on carbon reduction in North Northamptonshire. However, until the new Plan has been drafted, consulted upon and completed the examination process, the Council cannot confirm what will be included in any of the policies.


"As one of the areas very few architects, who has been learning about sustainable and climate conscious design for 40 years, how can I help? I have been using MMC, on and off and increasingly, for many years. I’m particularly looking for employment opportunities for myself as an under employed architect."

Answer: There are occasions when the Council requires the use of architectural services. In securing such expertise the Council will generally undertake a procurement process, such as tenders, which will be advertised. Local architects are always welcome to submit tenders for any future work that the Council advertises and which you would be interested in competing for.

Heat pumps technology

"Heat pump technologies have been around for a long time, they don’t seem to have improved substantially and why are they now so expensive?"

Answer: Heat pump technologies are priced by manufacturers and suppliers/installers – it would though be reasonable to assume that if the size of the market increases, and therefore demand increases, prices should fall due to increased competition. Further, any government subsidies will help reduce the costs. Historically in the UK, due to the relative low cost of alternative forms of space heating, such as gas, in most cases based on a financial business case, heat pumps would not be chosen.  

Retrofitting older housing stock with heat pumps 

"What is the possibility to use these technologies to retrofit older housing stock?" 

Answer: NNC, as a social landlord, is committed to helping the Council achieve its green agenda, along with meeting national government targets for carbon reduction. To help achieve this the Property Services team will bid for external funding when it is available, to maximise our investment opportunities in energy saving and carbon reduction measures. Any additional funding will support the annual capital investment that we make in our stock. The Council has already invested in heat pumps for a communal heating system, as part of a wider remodelling project of two blocks of flats in Kettering. In addition, we have recently installed air source heat pumps to two properties in the Kettering area, as opposed to replacing oil boilers. This forms part of a pilot programme to assess their suitability, with the tenants sharing their usage data and general feedback with us throughout the first year. Nearly all Corby properties, in addition to the vast majority of Kettering properties, have gas heating. The potential to replace these with heat pumps will be explored as part of our planned investment programme. However, it may not be suitable for all properties due to house type, location etc. therefore other options will also be considered. An NNC strategy for the delivery of replacement heating systems to the Council’s Housing stock will be formulated to ensure a consistent approach to delivery is achieved.

Tree planting

"What can businesses be pointed to if they are interested in tree planting? Do they need permission from anyone and, if so, who?"

Answer: Basic Information on tree planting is available on our Queen’s Jubilee pages.

The Woodland Trust and the Forestry Commission are national sources – including advice on grants, tree planting and woodland creation.

Landowner’s permission is required to plant trees as they will be responsible for them and checks should also be made that there are no designations on the land preventing the planting of trees (e.g. protected landscapes or habitats or restrictive covenants, etc).

Recyclable commercial waste

"Your recyclable commercial waste policy for Corby seems to have changed several times over the last few years. To my knowledge, recyclable commercial waste is currently neither collected separately nor sorted from the true waste at a later date. Is this correct? Please could the actual current process or lack thereof be clarified? If the waste is in fact being sorted or there is a way for us to have it collected, please could that be publicised? If there is no current process for recycling recyclables in our area, please could this be sorted out? Staff should not have to choose between taking things home for recycling or binning items that should be recycled."

Answer: Currently we are unable to offer a commercial recycling collection in the Corby area as we do not currently have the resources available to facilitate the collections. This is something we are currently reviewing as part of the harmonisation of the waste services across North Northamptonshire to determine:

  • what service we could offer in the future
  • what likely take up of the service there might be
  • what resources would be required and how this could be rolled out across North Northamptonshire.

As this work is linked to other work to review the household collection rounds and harmonisation of other services, we are not able to advise of a timescale yet of when any service might be introduced. The current commercial waste service (for residual waste) in Corby is not sorted for recycling. We are aware that there are commercial customers who are interested in a recycling service but until we have completed the review of some of our other services, we are unable to offer the service at the present time. 

Influencing the location of electric vehicle charging points 

"Thanks for your presentation – really helpful to see how Liberty plan to expand the network, especially as an EV driver. Question is – with an eye to growing the e-Hubs, if there is a site marked for a Liberty point that residents can see is a missed opportunity (i.e., cannot be expanded), whilst they can suggest sites for new points, can they influence the siting of the planned point before it’s too late?"

Answer: Residents can influence the siting of every site we install by registering their interest in on street charging through us or Liberty Charge. Residents also have the opportunity to respond to consultations that are sent to residents within close proximity to each selected site at both the initial consultation stage, and then via the statutory Traffic Regulatory Order stage which is generally published in the local newspaper. 

Grants or subsidies for public buildings

"I have a question in the context of the conference: Is the Council planning to announce any grants or subsidies for public buildings such as schools to improve energy efficiency, for example, through improving insulation, or any support for retrofitting solar panels or putting in electric charge points, etc?"

Answer: The potential use of funding and grants to improve energy efficiency in public buildings, such as schools, is something that the Council is currently considering.

Traffic free cycle route

"I would be interested to know if there are plans to develop a traffic free cycle route between Northampton and Wellingborough via Earls Barton and Great Doddington. Currently, there is a route running parallel to the A45 from Northampton, which stops (I think around Billing Aquadrome?) and I wondered if there are plans to continue it to Wellingborough in the near future."

Answer: There are broadly two potential cycle route options between Wellingborough and Northampton, one broadly following the Nene Valley and one via the A4500. Resources are currently being prioritised to develop Local Cycling and Walking Infrastructure Plans (LCWIPs) for the main towns in North Northamptonshire. Once these LCWIPs are in place, the Council will be in a better position to bid for future government funding.

Sustainability standards

"In line with the Council’s Sustainable Development ambitions described in the Joint Core Strategy, will the NNC be stipulating quality and sustainability standards for new houses such as Passivhaus or the BRE Home Quality Mark?"

Answer: The Council is ambitious about ensuring it secures high sustainability standards in new homes, the sovereign authorities sought to progress this theme during the last Joint Core Strategy examination. Unfortunately, those policies were not completely successful as they were not supported by Government policy. I quite anticipate the new North Northamptonshire Council will seek to secure progressive standards again where it can, providing it falls within Government policy or there’s a willing developer.


"My question for this morning is how committed is North Northants Council to enhancing biodiversity in our county? As leaders you have the tools to set things in motion to ensure things are done well and right, some of that is bringing the community together, education, applying for funding that can help, ensuring section 106 money is negotiated wisely and developers contribute to and the Council acts as a champion for our environment. But we also need investment and enforcement, how will you achieve this?"

Answer: North Northamptonshire Council recognises and takes very seriously its role in providing leadership for the area, including its responsibility to enhance biodiversity across the area. It’s already showing this through its far-reaching efforts in the determination of planning applications and driving projects across the area. Amongst the many themes include carrying out different mowing regimes and wildflower planting to provide habitats for bees, insects and small mammals in the Kettering and Corby areas under the banner ‘Pardon the Weeds, We are Feeding the Bees’, and woodland coppicing in Corby to open up the canopy and encourage enhanced biodiversity. In addition, the Council has agreed to look into bringing its grounds maintenance responsibilities in house across the whole area, giving it greater ability to deliver on these commitments.

The Council is also developing plans and delivering projects which increase accessibility linking our settlements for walking and cycling, following the Rivers Nene and Ise. Part of this involves enhancing the natural environment and habitats to allow residents to enjoy the flora and fauna along these routes, information boards will be provided to improve education. Section 106 funding is one source of funding support, negotiating to secure contributions however alongside other competing infrastructure requirements (affordable housing, education, recreation. open spaces, etc) can be a challenging.


"This is an area where I feel passionately we are not doing enough as a Council to ensure that our waterways are maintained and looked after rather than to let them be forgotten and a danger to our communities. The environment agency says it does not have the resources to do anything, the Council says it’s not their responsibility. Our brooks and streams are overgrown, polluted and no one seems to care. But in the long term we want to use the resource of our rivers to benefit the local economy? How can we use the upcoming rules around developer contributions to biodiversity to reverse the problems we are seeing at a community level? How can the Council champion the cause? How do we work smarter and for the benefit of our environment? Using our brooks and waterways will also help the threat of greater flooding in the future as a way of moving water away from where it is collecting."

Answer: The points you raise are appreciated - the Council does work with the Environment Agency where it can to reduce flood risk. For example, Surface Water Management Plans identify a series of actions, including maintenance, to both reduce flood risk and improve habitats. The Council will also continue to work with the Environment Agency to submit funding bids which secure big ticket items to benefit the area. The Council is already exploring how it can attract more people to our rivers, for leisure and commuting purposes, providing linked and improved walking and cycling opportunities, in addition to attracting funding to improve the quality of the environment and habitat.

Last updated 21 December 2021