‘Anyone who thinks climate change is not important is a fool’ – that’s the view of a senior councillor who welcomed Northumberland’s efforts on this front.

The comments, by Coun. Jeff Watson, came at a meeting as the county council’s cabinet formally approved the updated Climate Change Action Plan, including detailed proposals for the next two years on the road to the overall goal of reducing Northumberland’s emissions to net-zero by 2030.

As previously reported, the document sets out that this carbon-neutral target will require an inward investment of around £1.6bn over the next nine years, however, the ‘level of investment in the scenarios modelled in this plan could create up to 11,000 local green jobs’.

More than £6m is set aside for climate change improvements in the draft budget plans due to be approved at the end of this month, but the council has also been successful in attracting grant funding to support a number of major schemes, including £2.9m towards a solar carport at County Hall, £2m for a potential Hexham hydro-electric project and £8.6m for renewable heat schemes.

Council leader Glen Sanderson said: “There is a significant opportunity for Northumberland to position itself as the centre of the UK’s thriving green economy.

“As a council, we will continue to lead the way by reducing energy consumption of our estate and installing renewable heat and power solutions in our buildings, as well as assessing the carbon impact of all key policy decisions we make.”