A proposed strategy to cut greenhouse gas emissions, prepare for climate change and support nature across England’s largest county has been welcomed amid concerns about finding the funding to achieve its ambitions.

North Yorkshire Council’s executive will consider adopting a seven-year climate change strategy on Tuesday (July 18), a year after its predecessor authority, North Yorkshire County Council, declared a climate emergency and pledged to play a full part in tackling climate change.

The meeting follows a public consultation over the strategy which attracted some 1,700 responses.

Leading councillors will be told, as a result of the consultation’s findings, the strategy has been amended to include actions that are not core council activities, including a focus on what the council can do to support cut  agricultural emissions.

The proposed strategy also now includes supporting community action, particularly community energy development, which it is felt has “huge potential for both climate change and cost of living responses”.

Another key addition to the strategy has been improving the response of the council “to the barrier of electrical grid capacity”, following concerns such as the ability to develop solar farms and a comprehensive electric vehicle charging network across the vast, rural area.

Councillor Greg White, the council’s executive member for climate change, said by working with communities and businesses, the authority could help fulfil North Yorkshire and York Local Enterprise Partnership’s ambition to be the first carbon negative region by 2040.

He said: “We can lead, enable and influence activities through the services which we deliver, the responses we make to Government and the regulatory and strategic functions we carry out and this will continue in the new council.”

Nevertheless, Coun White also warned it would be necessary to get up front capital investment for larger scale projects and seize opportunities for external funding if the strategy would be achieved as the council’s budgets were under severe pressure in response to national and global financial and supply chain issues..

He said: “Can we afford to tackle climate change?  We have significant and demanding statutory responsibilities as a local authority to provide essential and critical services to support communities, vulnerable people and businesses.”

Responding to the proposed strategy, the authority’s Liberal Democrat group leader Councillor Bryn Griffiths welcomed the strategy, saying it had “been a long time in coming”, before adding it was “a positive starting point on the journey to a sustainable future”.

However, he said the group had concerns about the strategy being fully realised and said Coun White’s statement had been “very much about managing expectations rather than driving the ambition”.

Coun Griffiths said: “To deliver this strategy it wil need leadership, collaboration and transformational changes in how the authority will break away from its traditional direction.

“Will it happen? Will the leadership grasp the urgency? Will they back the aspirations of the officers and, more importantly, the community, with resources and policies to match? Only time will tell.

“One promise we can make is that we will be challenging them all the way, to ensure that an effective strategy is agreed and delivered as a matter of urgency.”