Hull in East Yorkshire is a port city surrounded by water so has always been dependent on and vulnerable to its forces.
Hull City Council is now harnessing the power of that water — and the city’s special location, on the River Hull and Humber estuary confluence — to create opportunities offered by renewable energy.
Hull’s commitment to driving climate change solutions within the city is not only raising its profile, but serving as important inspiration to other urban areas across the country — and wider world. Here’s what’s been happening, through key partnerships and investment in the region…
Leading the way: Wind turbines
Siemens Gamesa has been a world leader in the manufacturing of wind turbine blades for 40 years and has been doing so in Hull for the past seven. For its director, Andy Sykes, Hull was an obvious location choice.
“Hull was specifically chosen for a number of reasons,” explains Andy, the Plant Director at Siemens Gamesa. “One is its proximity to the market — the offshore wind market in the UK, but also the workforce that’s here — the talent, the energy, the enthusiasm that the workforce brings. As well as the port facilities being located close to the North Sea and the window to Europe.”
Siemens Gamesa now makes blades here that are more than 108 metres long — and it’s the only place in the world to make recyclable blades.
For both city and company, the relationship has proved mutually beneficial. Over 1,000 direct jobs have been created, but there’s also those in support functions that are crucial to their success.
“There’s also the inward investment,” says Andy. “We’ve been able to work in partnership with both the City Council and Future Humber to promote the region, to show what’s possible, and what Hull and the surrounding regions can bring to net zero and a clean carbon future.”
As a world leader in the manufacturing of wind turbines, Hull is now firmly on the global green technology map. While on a local level, in the city itself, the council is working hard to put in place preventative measures to counteract the impact of climate change.
Leading the way: Tackling flooding
The City Council has worked hard to prevent the floods of 2007, when Hull experienced widespread flooding across the city, with thousands of properties damaged.
Arthur Moon has lived on one of Hull’s flood-prone streets for more than 20 years. To the delight of residents, the Living with Water partnership — between Water Yorkshire, Hull City, and East Riding Councils and the Environment Agency — has recently installed £2 million of permeable paving funded by Yorkshire to remedy the ongoing problem of surface water flooding.
“We’ve had some heavy rain recently, and the road performs what it’s supposed to do. It absorbs the water. There’s nothing there after it stops raining — that’s what we like about it.”
In times of very heavy, extreme rainfall, water is stored in a storage lagoon and held in a managed environment.
Constructed after the 2007 floods, the lagoon is just one way Hull City Council’s working in partnership with other agencies to protect residents from flooding.
Rachel Glossop, Hull Council’s Flood Risk Manager explains how they’ve worked with the Environmental Agency on the Humber Hall frontages scheme which has protected many properties in the city from tidal flooding.
“We’ve worked with East Riding of Yorkshire Council, our neighbouring authority. We’re working with Yorkshire Water to retrofit sustainable drainage […] across the city, and we’re all working on that community engagement and awareness-raising, with children and schools as well, to ramp up that understanding of flooding and bring in that multi-benefit to show that it’s not always a negative.”
Hull’s future is bright while adaptation to climate change remains at the forefront of their agenda.
Martin Budd, Hull City Council’s Change Manager says the work that they’ve done to adapt to flooding is an integral part of that adaptation process, but it’s also much wider:
“It also recognises the impacts of heat, and how that will affect us. Also, the impacts of a lack of water. We have to balance all of those issues, and understand how they will impact the city; the buildings, our communities. It’s also really important for us to understand the social dimensions to the impact of climate change.”
For more inspiration, head to our Cities of the Future programme page where you’ll find interviews, insights and fascinating short films on city projects and decarbonisation initiatives.
This film is paid for and controlled by the brand identified. It is produced by the ITN Business commercial team and is not created by ITN news staff journalists.