Cornwall to become first ‘net zero’ area of Britain

Cornwall is to become the first "net zero" area of the UK with new town centre and landscape regeneration funding, after Boris Johnson vowed there will be a lasting "legacy" of this week’s G7 summit.

Ministers will allocate over £65 million of the Government’s Town Deal funding pot to Penzance, St Ives and Camborne, which they say will "level up" the area and boost its green credentials.

Money will also be spent on a "major land restoration and regeneration programme across 21,000 hectares", which will involve planting trees, restoring peat, improving water quality and recreating scarce habitats.

Officials believe that reforesting the area and restoring the wetlands will take 440,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere, bringing the county closer to producing net zero carbon.

Towns Fund money will also be used to create a new network of foot and cycle paths between towns in the area.

Ministers are concerned about the area’s rate of biodiversity loss, which is faster than the national average despite 27 per cent of the region being protected as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Birds, land mammals and butterflies are all under threat, with their numbers declining over the last 30 years.

The funding for new projects comes as world leaders prepare to descend on Cornwall’s Carbis Bay later this week to discuss environmental priorities of the G7 club of rich countries.

The Prime Minister has vowed that the summit will leave a "legacy" for the area.

He said: "As the eyes of the world look to Cornwall this week, not only will they see an area of outstanding beauty, they will witness a region that is innovative, exciting and looking firmly towards a bright future.

"The exciting projects we have announced today are a fitting legacy for a region playing host to some of the most important diplomatic talks in a generation. As the world builds back better from coronavirus, Cornwall will lead the way."

Visit Cornwall, the county’s tourism board, believes the economic boost of the G7 could see it bring in £50 million, including a boost of £26 million from international tourism over the next five years.

Tony Juniper, the chair of Natural England, said the investment would "assist with nature recovery through reconnecting habitats and ecosystems across the region, contributing to the conservation of rare species, carbon capture and improved water quality".

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