Labour’s candidate for the North of Tyne Mayor says the region can be a world leader in renewable energy if it gets the right support.
And during a visit to Narec Distributed Energy, a Blyth-based renewables company, Jamie Driscoll announced plans to set-up a community owned power company that supplies green energy.
The ambition to link any reintroduced passenger rail service in south-east Northumberland with the Metro line and a joint transport ticketing system were other proposals mentioned.
He believes changes by the Government to renewable feed-in and export tariffs have severely hampered businesses and organisations in the sector.
Mr Driscoll said: “Technology is advancing all the time and it’s getting cheaper to produce renewable energy.
“Therefore, it’s important that we make sure it’s available to benefit communities and the environment, rather than it just enabling the big energy corporations to make extra profits.
“I will work with local communities to establish cooperatively-owned renewable energy. We would need to start small and then build it up until the Government in Westminster takes climate change more seriously, and I can tell you that Labour is taking the issue very seriously.
“I believe that if the political support is there, we can be a world leader in green energy and this and other renewable energy projects would provide many new jobs in the region.
“An important aspect is making sure there is the right green energy infrastructure and integrated public transport in place.”
Tom Bradley, director of Narec Distributed Energy that also provides renewable energy training, said there are a number of businesses and organisations in Northumberland and the North East that could thrive if the political support is in place.
He added: “We spoke with Jamie about the reality of activities and policies that could allow the region to be a leader in addressing the current climate crises, whilst supporting jobs to ensure a just transition.
“It just needs someone to pull the trigger. There are a range of feasibility studies and projects that have been carried out over the last five years and those involved would then need to pick the ones which would work well with a new community company.”
Mr Driscoll also highlighted the importance of climate change issues being raised in schools, saying: “Cuts in education are making it difficult for teachers to take this on, so I would put together a specialist team which could teach youngsters practical, hands-on project about green energy that would build their enthusiasm and give them links to the industry.”