Oyster farms planned for Durham coast in bid to tackle climate change

Oyster farms could be set up along the Durham coast to help the county meet its climate change targets.

Picture c/o Pixabay
Picture c/o Pixabay

Durham County Council has set itself a target of slashing its carbon footprint by 80% over the next 10 years.

And along with initiatives such as switching to LED light bulbs and generating more energy from solar power, it is hoped ‘blue carbon’ projects could help bosses reach their goal by 2030.

“[The heritage coast team] said when they have had a look at the Durham coast line they have seen, the the past couple of years, a great improvement in the seabed and the quality of the seabed,” said Stephen McDonald, the council’s low carbon economy principal officer.

“Since the mining activities ceased it has taken a long time to get back to something like what it was.

“And with help we could plant things like oysters and kelp, which can have a really big carbon offset potential.”

Mr McDonald was speaking at a meeting of the county council’s Environment and Sustainable Communities Overview and Scrutiny Committee.

So-called ‘blue carbon’ schemes seek to use sea life, such as kelp and seaweed, to take carbon out of the atmosphere.

Shellfish, such as oysters and clams, can in turn be used to filter and purify sea waters to improve the health of marine ecosystems.

In 2019 Durham County Council promised to cut carbon emissions by 60% from 2008/09 levels by 2030.

The target was increased to 80 per cent earlier this year, with full carbon neutrality by 2050 due to be considered once this is met.

However, although bosses claim they are making good progress so far, they also warned the panel they still faced a battle to decarbonise the ‘hardest parts’ of society and the economy, such as transport and heating systems.

Rosalind Farrow, a carbon and energy analyst for the council, said: “The emissions we need to focus on are the ones we actually do – burning fossil fuels in our cars and central heating boilers.

“The National Grid is decarbonising anyway, so in many ways our electricity is not a priority.”