Gateshead Council Climate Strategy Consultation

We sent the following email to Gateshead Council as our collective response from Gateshead Green Party to the climate strategy consultation:

Dear Climate Action Team,

We welcome the council’s consultation on its climate strategy and have encouraged our members to engage with it, complete the survey and support any actions that arise within the wards where they live.

However, we’ve also thought collectively about what more could be done to progress more quickly to becoming a local authority which is carbon neutral and would like to offer some suggestions.

We’ve noted from our own analysis of the published figures on CO2 emissions that the Transport sector contributes the largest share and not only that, but before the pandemic, was increasing, while emissions for all the other sectors were decreasing (see the chart below).

The interactive version of the chart can be accessed here

We’ve also noted that the percentage of people in Gateshead who walk or cycle is very low compared to the rest of the country. In 2019 the percentage of people who walked or cycled at least once in the month was 75%, implying that 25% did not walk or cycle at all (see the chart below).

The interactive version of the chart can be accessed here

General observations on ward based action

We support the ward based approach outlined in the strategy and local councillors becoming champions of initiatives in their wards. However, we also recognise that some changes, particularly in relation to transport, can only realistically be implemented with central co-ordination across the whole of Gateshead. A possible way to positively engage local people with such changes may be to set up a citizens’ assembly as has been successfully trialled in other areas, such as in Oxford. See here for details.

We think that the engagement of people locally and fostering a sense of control and ownership will be the key to change. To this end we think the ward based approach could be extended to street level where councillors could ask for volunteers street by street to co-ordinate residents groups and street based initiatives to drive CO2 reductions. It would be an amazing milestone to have a whole street of local residents declare themselves to be carbon neutral!

Back to the question of transport we also have the following suggestions:

Promoting active transport

Increasing the proportion of people who walk or cycle to work or school to visit friends or to do shopping, we believe, is an important way to address rising CO2 emissions from transport.

This work should begin with schools, with councillors engaging with local schools

  • to understand what the existing green travel plans are, to support their development and help to identify opportunities for improvement.
  • To support fund raising to install bike storage areas and increase the ownership and use of bikes among children.

The next port of call would be places of work, but we think the approach may need to be informed by any lessons learned from engaging with schools.

We recognise that road safety concerns are a disincentive for people to walk or cycle. As such we think that the creation of a 20 mile an hour speed limit in all urban areas of Gateshead would create a safe environment in which active transport is more likely to flourish.


We would encourage the council to change the licencing arrangements so that only electric vehicles are licensed to operate as taxis in Gateshead. 

We are mindful of the important role that taxi drivers fulfil in meeting local transport needs, particularly for more disadvantaged members of the community, and the long and unsocial hours they need to work in order to make a living. Any changes to the licensing should, therefore, be phased and supported in such a way to ensure that the existing level of provision is maintained and taxi drivers themselves are not in any way economically disadvantaged. Our hope would be that taxi drivers would be able to gain some financial advantage from a lower cost per mile of running an electric over a petrol or diesel vehicle, which they can pass on in part to their customers.

Reduce the need to travel

People travel and contribute to CO2 emissions because the object of their journey is further away than they are able or willing to walk or cycle. Councillors should establish within their wards what services, shops or amenities are missing which necessitates people travelling outside the area and identify what can be done to bring in the missing elements. Further investigation may be required to establish whether the planning application process could be amended to deliver more balanced local economies, high streets and public services?  The aim should be to develop neighbourhoods in line with the 15 minute city concept. See

We would be happy to support any further investigation or discussions to assess the feasibility of the suggestions we’ve made.

Thank you for consideration.

Yours sincerely,

Mark Gorman

Climate Emergency Officer, On behalf of Gateshead Green Party