Hope Valley comprises a string of villages along the River Derwent and the railway line between Sheffield and Manchester. It is home to 9,000 people and the Hope Cement Works, and receives millions of visitors each year. Although we are lucky to live in the beautiful Peak Park, we are not immune to the impacts of climate change.
Hope Valley Climate Action (HVCA) was founded in 2019 at a large public meeting in Hathersage. We have over 600 members and plan to recruit a lot more. We became a charity in 2020; our aim is to tackle the causes and consequences of climate change.
We have a vision of the Valley becoming more sustainable and more rich in wildlife. We want to add to the wider debate about our response to the climate emergency, and to demonstrate that a step change to a lower-carbon future where nature is recovering is both possible and desirable.
To do this, we are raising local awareness, taking local action to reduce carbon emissions in ways that benefit nature, and advocating for policies at all levels that address the climate emergency.
Our Travelling Light project is a nationally significant pilot, exploring how integrated rural travel can transform the ways we travel. We are running roundtable workshops with travel planners, transport operators, academia, local residents, and the visitor economy, to explore ways to achieve this transformational change.
We are lobbying our local MPs to ensure the government introduces sensible funding, and are working with other groups to encourage our local councils to get serious about providing advice and managing grants.
Our Open Eco Homes Day in October showcased heat pumps, insulation, and other energy efficiency measures in 12 homes. The hosts will continue to offer advice and help. Our renewable energy study will estimate how much electricity we need and explore options of how we might generate it locally. Most importantly, we are involving residents in the discussion and starting a conversation with the Peak Park.
We are also engaging with farmers and landowners to help them reduce their emissions, capture more carbon, and increase biodiversity. Our village rewilding groups are planting hundreds of trees, and working with local councils to change verge mowing regimes to allow wildflowers to seed and to create wildlife corridors.
Our School Climate Challenge with all 11 schools in the Hope Valley is proving to be popular with pupils and teachers. We play a card game to engage and empower them to take action against climate change. Every child who gets their family to make pledges online wins a prize of Greta Thunberg’s book, No One Is Too Small To Make a Difference, and the best school wins the School Climate Challenge certificate.
We also need systemic change to combat climate change. Global leaders at COP26 currently follow private interests and public opinion, so our local actions and demands matter. We are building relationships with our local MPs and councillors, and influencing their thinking. If hundreds of groups like HVCA in Britain and worldwide take action and demand change, our governments will deliver the transformational policies we need.
Hope Valley Climate Action is on social media and at hopevalleyclimateaction.org.uk.
This article was originally published in the autumn-winter print edition of Wicked Leeks. You can read the full magazine for free on Issuu.