NNClimate23 conference

NNClimate23 - Speakers


Councillor Jason Smithers, Leader of North Northamptonshire Council

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

He 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.

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

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 2021, and shortly after, was invited to join the Executive as the Executive Member for Climate and the Green Environment as part of our 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 2021 and setting a date of 2030 by which to become carbon neutral.

As part of this, Harriet has been encouraged to see the progress in delivering electric vehicle charging points, planting more trees and pursuing our 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.

Session one

Tom Martin, Farmer, Village Farm, Northamptonshire and Cambridgeshire border

Having spent 10 years working in the film industry, Tom returned home to the family farm, a predominantly arable farm with some sheep and cattle. He has continued in the footsteps of his forbears carefully stewarding the environment and embracing regenerative farming.

Tom is passionate about sharing what happens ‘behind the farm gate’, which has led him hosting a well-supported presence on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram as ‘Farmer Tom’ as well as getting involved in a number of organisations, hosting farm tours, as well as writing monthly in ‘Prospect Magazine'.

In 2017 he launched ‘Farmer Time’ (formerly called ‘FaceTime a Farmer’) which pairs farmers with school classes; currently over 20,000 school children video call to their paired farmer every fortnight to link curriculum learning with life on the farm.

Ed Dee, West Lodge Farm Park, Desborough

Ed is a 6th generation farmer, studied agricultural science at Nottingham. Diversified the farm in 1994 to an open farm with ethos of sharing enthusiasm for the countryside with visiting families. Have been farming sustainably as well as improving and promoting biodiversity for over 25 years.

West Lodge is an award-winning farm park. West Lodge’s mission is to share their enthusiasm for the countryside where children and adults of all ages can have hands on experiences of farm and country life.

West Lodge Farm is a 700 acre mixed farm and Open Farm.

100 acres of solar panels generating 20 mega watts. Grass under the panels is used for rearing sheep.

Fossil fuel boilers replaced with woodchip biomass boiler, with woodchip from sustainable managed forest only 9 miles from the farm. This heats and provides hot water for the whole site.

All food packaging is compostable and is composted onsite along with our food waste, producing more organic material to fertilise the fields.

Mixed farm, with animal muck used on fields rather than chemical fertilisers.

Livestock grazed in a way that locks in carbon. Paddocks are seeded with a mixture of plants that reduce need for grain feeding, have natural worming properties, self-fertilizing, high in minerals reducing need for supplements and with varied plants preferring different conditions the grazing in flood and drought resistant.

Arable crops farmed with minimal machinery use to reduce fuel consumption and rotated to further reduce need for other chemicals.

Considerable areas of the farm dedicated to wildlife. West Lodge Farm have focused on enlarging existing habitats, connecting them with margins and hedgerows, created new habitats. Have numerous rare birds, flowers and butterflies thriving bucking national declining trends.

Dr Preyesh Patel, Co-Founder and Director, Eat Curious and Syan Farms, Northampton

Preyesh has a healthcare background with over 12 years of experience, specifically in the dental industry. He has a passion for sustainable living and also has a deep understanding of plant-based nutrition with the ability to promote and activate innovative plant-based food solutions. Preyesh has a keen focus on innovation and is dedicated to enhancing the nutritional quality, consumer acceptability, and sustainability of plant-based food.

Session two

Dr Kelly Manders, Regional Development Manager (Eastern Region and North London), Strategy Team (Future of Gas), Cadent Gas, Coventry

In her current role, Kelly is responsible for our regional hydrogen transition programmes, including East Coast Hydrogen, Capital Hydrogen and Hydrogen Valley.

A chemist by background, Kelly is committed to helping the UK transition to net zero and a low carbon future. Prior to joining Cadent in 2022, Kelly has been working in stakeholder engagement, policy development, research and innovation implementation for over 20 years.

Kelly is skilled in aligning strategies and identifying opportunities for collaboration across a variety of partners. She is able to recognise and articulate shared ambitions and stimulate early stage projects.

Cadent is the UK’s largest gas distribution network with a 200-year legacy. Day to day we continue to operate, maintain and innovate the UK’s largest gas network, transporting gas safely and protecting people in an emergency. Our skilled engineers and specialists remain committed to the communities we serve, working day and night to ensure gas reaches 11 million homes from Cumbria to North London and the Welsh Borders to East Anglia, to keep your energy flowing.

Future of Gas: Here at Cadent we support the Government’s plans to reach Net Zero by 2050. That means we’re backing the introduction of hydrogen as a low carbon alternative to natural gas for the future. We know people love the controllability of gas and, with our network already in place, it makes sense to switch to the lower carbon alternative offered by hydrogen, which we believe can keep homes and businesses warm for generations to come.

Fenella Lowden, Client Solutions Lead, TopHat (modular housing), Foston, Derby

Fenella Lowden is a Client Solutions Lead with TopHat, the sustainable modular housing company. Moving to modular from traditional construction supports her desire to have less impact on the world around her. With over a decade of experience of managing property and facilities including the maintenance services for a housing trust, Fenella also fully understands what it feels like from a customer's perspective and the responsibility of managing buildings - commercial and residential.

TopHat are a volumetric modular home manufacturer. We are committed to delivering beautifully designed, high quality, sustainable homes. Our approach to delivering homes is highly sustainable both in operation and in delivery.

TopHat are the UK’s leading, ultra-low embodied carbon housing provider. In 2024, we will open our second factory in Corby. This will be even more automated than our current factory and approximately 5 times larger. It will be net zero carbon and will have the capacity to provide over 4500 homes across the country where they are required and c1000 jobs where they are needed.

Professor Phil Longhurst, Director of Partnerships and Professor of Environment and Energy Technology, School of Water, Energy and Environment, Cranfield University, Cranfield

Phil is the School of Water, Energy and Environment Director of Partnerships and Professor of Environment and Energy Technology. His research focuses on reducing GHG emissions

from energy and waste processes and his projects includes resource and value recovery from wastes, development of heat networks and sources for alternative fuels including hydrogen. SWEE is developing less polluting and GHG emitting outcomes for industry and cities and supports the use of the campus as a ‘living lab’ with a unique combination of renewable energy facilities in operation.

Cranfield University is a unique, postgraduate university, specialising in technology and management. We deliver research and teaching across 8x multidisciplinary themes: Water, Energy Environment; Aerospace, Manufacturing, Transport, Management and Defence. Around 5,800 people come to Cranfield each year to benefit from our executive and professional development programmes and we have over 30 international alumni communities across the world, including China, India, Russia, Switzerland and Brazil. During a typical year, our academics deliver courses to participants from around 50 countries outside the UK. 88% of our research is classed as world-leading or internationally excellent (Research Excellence Framework, 2021) and we are ranked in the global top 30 in the world for Engineering – Mechanical, Aeronautical and Manufacturing (QS World University Rankings by Subject 2023). 44% of our students’ and learners’ study part-time. Cranfield is recognised by the UK Office for Students in 2022 as a world-leading specialist provider in recognition of our global reputation for high quality teaching and the ongoing impact of our graduates on their professions and industries.

Session three

Alison Holland, Founder, Brightwayz, Geddington

Alison Holland is the founder of Brightwayz social enterprise which is based in Geddington near Kettering. Promoting safe, active, sustainable everyday travel is at the forefront of everything they do.

Originally known as Brightkidz they have supported schools and councils across the UK for nearly 20 years with products and information for walk to school schemes. Now as Brightwayz they help all ages to travel in sustainable ways.

Their face-to-face projects are exclusively delivered in North Northamptonshire - supporting schools, businesses and community organisations as well as NNC to achieve higher levels of greener travel. With transport the largest source of carbon emissions in the UK, the importance of enabling sustainable travel and reducing car dependency has never been greater.

Jack Pishhorn, Head of Culture, Tourism and Heritage for North Northamptonshire, North Northamptonshire Council

Jack has been working with North Northamptonshire Council for the past 4 years, directing the Chester House Estate restoration project. He is currently the Head of Service for CT&H overseeing the strategic direction and operation for The Chester House Estate, The Cornerstone, Corby Heritage Centre, Discover Northamptonshire and The Greenway Project.

Javid Ahmed, Vice Principal, Tresham College, Corby

With a background in computing and electrical, Javid transitioned to education, spending 14 years at Bedford College, now part of The Bedford College Group. For six years, Javid led the Electrical Installation Department and recently assumed the role of Vice Principal at Tresham College. Committed to TBCG's vision, Javid champions initiatives addressing climate change, aiming for a net-zero organisation by 2042. Passionate about fostering green skills, Javid strives to inspire students and staff toward climate action. His journey continues to bridge education, technology, and sustainability for a brighter future, empowering and educating the youth of tomorrow.

Tresham College helps individuals, communities and society flourish through education by raising aspirations and reducing inequality to create a sustainable future.

Last updated 11 December 2023