Sustainable Nottingham

Nottingham wants to be the first UK city to reach carbon neutrality and has set a target of 2028, 2 years ahead of most cities.  Carbon emissions have been reduced by 58% since the 2005 baseline, and the City Council is determined for Nottingham to be one of the most sustainable cities in Europe.  They have produced a Carbon Neutral Charter setting out their vision, a roadmap consisting of a 270-point action plan to follow, and monitor actions every quarter.  They use the platform climate view for managing climate strategies, which helps identify connections and trade-offs, gaps and opportunities, and economic and social impacts.  It emphasises carbon reductions alongside building prosperity rather than the cessation of familiar activities.

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I spoke to Wayne Bexton, Director of Environment and Sustainability at Nottingham City Council, on the podcast to gain insight about some of their activities aimed at reaching their carbon neutral goal.  The Council is responsible for only about 3% of Nottingham’s city emissions, so progress requires collaboration.  Wayne extends his reach through additional roles as the senior responsible officer for the Midlands Net Zero Hub and chairman of the D2N2 local enterprise partnership board.  The Midlands Net Zero Hub (one of 5 hubs in England) is a government-funded programme working with nine Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs).  It supports organisations with identifying and developing local net zero/energy strategies and projects.  D2N2 is a collaboration between the public and private sectors to promote investment in low carbon growth. 

The Council also works with key city partners through the well-established Nottingham Green Partnership, involving nearly 30 organisations, including businesses, universities and charities.  In 2021, the Council launched the ‘We Support CN28’ campaign to gain pledges of support from businesses; 60 have signed up so far. 


Heating is the most significant contributor to domestic carbon emissions and is 25% of the city’s overall emissions.  Buildings in the UK are notoriously leaky and energy inefficient and are a monumental challenge to upgrade.  In Nottingham, there are ten archetypes of property, and the older ones tend unsurprisingly to be the leakier ones and are harder to retrofit.  The Council have sought various funds and grants for their social housing to install external wall insulation, solar PV and air source heat pumps.  They have successfully retrofitted thousands of properties, although there is still much to be done within privately-owned housing.  

Improving homes so they use less energy has revealed other benefits too.  Nottingham residents living in warmer homes have made fewer visits to the doctor for cold-related issues.  People also demonstrate pride of place, perhaps unsurprisingly, when living in a more comfortable home.


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Transport represented 30.5% of Nottingham’s total carbon emissions in 2017.  The Council have implemented various strategies to lower emissions (and improve air quality).  They have introduced e-scooters, continue to invest in the tram system, and are electrifying the Council’s fleet.  They have installed an impressive vehicle-2-grid system at Eastcroft depot; it comprises solar panels to generate electricity, a large lithium-Ion battery for energy storage, and a fleet of electric vehicles (including bin lorries and road sweepers).  The battery can store energy from both the solar panels and discharging electric vehicles and helps supply the grid when energy demand is high.  

The Council acknowledges vehicles will still enter the city in order to retain a thriving Nottingham, and they have built a new Broadmarsh car park.  However, it offers the highest number of electric vehicle (EV) chargers compared to any car park in the UK; about 100 bays are dedicated to EV charging to meet future demand.  The roof space is solar-covered to power the car park.  Nottingham is still the only place to operate a Workplace Parking Levy to tackle problems associated with traffic congestion.  Introduced in 2012, employers pay a levy when they provide workplace parking to their staff.  It generates significant funding for Nottingham’s public transport system and encourages people to consider other options. 


A switch to renewable energy from fossil fuels is paramount to a carbon neutral plan.  One innovative project is the installation of solar carports to power several Nottingham leisure centres.  As well as reducing emissions, it benefits those parking underneath when the weather is poor and has the potential to generate energy-related conversations amongst those that visit.

The Future

The city is galvanised to reach their ambitious target in 2028.  Whether they meet it or not will not be known until 2030, as the data lags two years behind.  I hope they do, and their mission stimulates other cities to ramp up their net zero activities.