Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Giving Our Rural Areas Real Power; Targets Are Set for Renewable Energy

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Giving Our Rural Areas Real Power; Targets Are Set for Renewable Energy

Article excerpt

Byline: Tony Henderson

ATARGET was set yesterday to see rural communities draw most of their power from renewable sources.

The aim is one of the visions for the future in the new management plan for Northumberland National Park, which was launched at Hesleyside in the North Tyne Valley, the ancestral home of the Charlton clan.

The plan envisages the park becoming a role model for community-scale renewable energy such as wind, solar, wood-burning and water power.

Tony Gates, park chief executive, said that the idea was for domestic-scale renewable power to become the principal source of energy for park communities.

He said: "Energy costs can be volatile for rural communities and if we can get that under control by using assets on their doorstep that helps those communities become more sustainable."

Another feature of the management plan is a College in the Park concept.

This envisages using the park's renewable energy schemes, farming and forestry landscape and heritage buildings and features as an open air "college" for training and apprenticeships, leading to jobs in the park.

This would build on the park's successful Traditional Boundaries project which has trained around 25 individuals in skills like drystone walling.

Mr Gates said: "These park assets can be used to train people for jobs we know are going to be there."

The management plan covers 405 scenic square miles of Northumberland - a fifth of the county - and stresses that the park is a key environmental asset for the region.

Key aims are providing an exceptional visitor experience, conserving the distinctive nature of the area and creating a sustainable base for living and working in the park.

Rob Aubrook, Natural England regional director, said: "Having a healthy, natural environment is indispensable to the current and future economic prosperity in the North East. …

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