I was interested to read about the plans to rebuild Airedale Hospital (Craven Herald 1/12/20) especially the ambition for it to be “Europe’s first zero-carbon facility of its kind”. The proposals include solar and wind power, bore holes for ground source heating, air source heat pumps and battery storage. This is all very exciting so let’s hope that the bid for funding succeeds.

However, if the rebuild does go ahead, it should be supported by other measures to help us hit the 2050 net zero target such as improving the public transport networks linking the hospital to the communities it serves. Unfortunately it doesn't look as if this kind of "joined up" planning is currently taking place as noted by Professor Kevin Anderson - one of the experts who responded to the Government’s recent 10 point plan for a 'green industrial revolution': “Five years on from the 2015 Paris Climate Change Agreement, and the UK Government’s ten-point plan amounts to little more than a rhetorical flourish for which future generations will pay dearly. In the absence of a coordinated, quantitatively robust and timely strategy, its piecemeal proposals are very much part of the problem and not a thought through solution.” - sciencemedia.org “Expert reaction to the Government’s 10 point plan for a green industrial revolution” 18/11/20.

The rebuild of the new hospital could well turn out to be a perfect example of these 'piecemeal proposals' in action. Boris Johnson is very fond of newsworthy flagship building projects so I’m sure the innovative plans for the new hospital will catch his eye, but they cannot be effective in isolation. Decarbonising transport is becoming an urgent priority and we should be doing everything possible to make public transport attractive and take cars off the roads. Improving the bus service to the hospital and taking it right to the doors so that it is suitable for use by those with mobility issues should also be part of any plan to rebuild, just as providing funding for electrifying bus services across the country, improving routes and timetables and keeping fares down to make it the preferred method of transport for most local journeys, by as many people as possible, should be a key part of the Government’s roadmap to net zero.

Amanda Caven