Electric bike ride raises awareness of climate change ahead of COP26 conference

Electric bike ride to highlight Swaffham Prior's green energy scheme marks global climate change conference COP26.

Electric bike ride to highlight Swaffham Prior's green energy scheme marks global climate change conference COP26. The riders are pictured. - Credit: COMBINED AUTHORITY

An electric bike ride to highlight Swaffham Prior's green energy scheme has taken place to mark the global climate change conference COP26.

The event, organised by Cambridgeshire County Council and the Cambridgeshire & Peterborough Combined Authority, saw riders saddle up in Cambridge on Thursday before heading off to Swaffham Prior, nine miles away.

The village is on track to become the first in the UK to switch off oil and move onto zero-carbon heating.

This will be through ground source and air source heat pumps to heat homes.

COP26 is the global climate change conference being held in Glasgow from October 31 to November 12, with world leaders arriving to discuss measures to reduce rising temperatures.

The bike ride was held to highlight the efforts being undertaken in Cambridgeshire to make the county net carbon zero, with riders using either an electric or non-electric bike.

The county council – which declared a climate emergency in 2019 – has set a target to cut half of its own direct carbon emissions by 2023 and it is on track to achieve this.

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For the wider Cambridgeshire area, the aim is to bring forward the net-zero by 2050 target towards 2030.

One of the projects which will help the council reach its goal is the one being undertaken at Swaffham Prior.

It includes an energy centre being created on land adjacent to Goodwin Farm off Heath Road, and a renewable heat network being installed beneath the village streets.

The council is progressing the project along with its technical partner Bouygues Energies & Services.

The 15 riders who arrived in the village at around 1.30pm on Thursday were then given the chance to tour the energy centre, where construction has just started.

Ground source heat pumps will be used to extract heat from the ground through a series of underground pipes.

In warmer seasons, air source heat pumps will be used to absorb heat from the outside air which is then absorbed into a fluid.

The fluid gets passed through compressors (a bit like a fridge in reverse) that increase the temperature, which in turn is used to heat the building and water circuits.

Councillor Lorna Dupre, Cambridgeshire County Council’s environment and green investment committee chairwoman, said: “As a council, we are making huge strides to become net zero carbon.

"Whether that's through retrofitting our public buildings such as schools and libraries, investing in solar farms or innovative schemes such as the one at Swaffham Prior which is UK-leading.

"It’s so exciting to see it starting to come together after four years developing the project with the Community Land Trust. I can’t wait until it is in operation.”

Dr Nik Johnson, Mayor of Cambridgeshire and Peterborough, said: “We know we need to do so much more but by showcasing good practice be it community heating or using bikes and ebikes to actively travel, we show what the norm is becoming and we can encourage change.

"I am committed to tackling this climate crisis and will continue to push for change and showcase great examples of communities, business and individuals who are leading the way in the fight for a greener future of our planet.”

People are now being encouraged to cycle the route from Newmarket Road park and ride to Swaffham Prior during the half-term school holidays.

Those who do so are being asked to post a picture on social media with the hashtag #CambsCOP26ride

People can access the cycle route using the CycleMaps app or the web-based Cycle Streets.