Green makeover planned for our claret and blue town, says Burnley's Green Party leader

A green makeover could be on the horizon for our claret and blue town.
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The leader of Burnley Green Party has spoken of his plans to protect the local environment while helping to lift people above the breadline by putting the power back into the town's hands.

Coun. Scott Cunliffe, who represents Cliviger with Worsthorne, said: "Many services are going into private hands - I think that is an issue.

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"We want a fair deal for people and plan to address the energy, climate, and cost-of-living crises together."

Burnley Green leader Coun. Scott Cunliffe (far right) with Coun. Jack Launder (centre) and Green supporter Clare Hales.Burnley Green leader Coun. Scott Cunliffe (far right) with Coun. Jack Launder (centre) and Green supporter Clare Hales.
Burnley Green leader Coun. Scott Cunliffe (far right) with Coun. Jack Launder (centre) and Green supporter Clare Hales.

The politician is exploring the potential for using warm water from underground coal mines to heat homes, i.e. geothermal energy.

He hopes the mines could put Burnley in charge of its energy system and make it cheaper for people to heat their homes.

Geothermal energy is also said to be clean, renewable, and accessible 24/7.

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"We're looking at the potential for Burnley's geothermal power in the coal mines and managing our energy system. It would be fantastic. Hot water is under our feet. We need to look at what's below and above our feet and insulate homes better.

"Energy is cleaner from coal mines than from dirty energy companies, so it would reduce our carbon footprint.

"But it could also heat homes and make heating bills cheaper.

"We need to explore that as a town together. It’s exciting. It’s a dream of mine to have local energy power."

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He also believes a geothermal industry could attract students and businesses to the area and that reusing the coal mines would tie our heritage as an industrial frontrunner to our future as a thriving university town.

"It will help keep jobs in the area, and businesses can run their heating systems cheaper and have a smaller carbon footprint. Students are less likely to leave the town and go somewhere else."

Coun. Cunliffe also wants to stop people from building in the countryside unnecessarily and instead encourage them to transform town centre eyesores into accommodation or other facilities.

He plans to breathe fresh air into Burnley's Local Plan - which allocates sites for building - when it comes up for review.

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"There’s a housing crisis, but we want the right home in the right place at the right time and to make maximum use of brownfield sites. It’s easier to build on greenfield sites than to renovate brownfield, but once they’re gone, they’re gone."

Building on rural land destroys wildlife habitats and can overwhelm existing nearby services like schools and GP practices if they are not improved, he added.

The councillor wants to stop people from "land banking" - when land is bought but left undeveloped - by allocating urban over rural sites for construction projects.

"We need to use abandoned areas and make land owners develop town centre sites instead of allocating greenfields. That needs to be fully exhausted before going anywhere near greenfields. An example is UCLan taking over an old mill that wasn’t being utilised. It's more expensive to build on the greenfield sites, and when gone, they’re gone."