SOMERSET is among a number of rural areas promoting the voice of the countryside in regards to climate change policy.

In a letter published in the Daily Telegraph by the new Countryside Climate Network, a cross-party group of 21 councils from every region in England, warns that “rural communities are at the frontline of feeling the effects of climate change” and that “the countryside offers far more than a place to plant millions of trees to offset carbon emissions”.

The new network has been established by UK100, a network of local leaders that campaigns on climate change.

The 21 councils represent 14.3 million people in total, a quarter of the population and 41 per cent of England by area.

The letter adds: “Rural communities have always been a great source of national progress and innovation.

"However, rural communities face unfair barriers in trying to decarbonise – it is harder to attract funding for projects which don’t fit traditional cost benefit analyses, which favour urban concentrations yet may have less overall carbon reduction impact.”

Somerset County Council leader Cllr David Fothergill said: “We are already taking action on Climate Change in Somerset and co-ordinating our plans to reduce carbon emissions to net zero by 2030.

"We are also seeking to build a climate resilient county ready to adapt to likely future climate and extreme weather events.

“By forming an alliance with other rural councils across the country we can highlight the challenges we all face, and it gives us an opportunity to work together and learn from each other.”

Actions already implements to tackle climate change in Somerset include upgrading more than half of the county's streetlights to LED - which has reduced their carbon footprint by more than 3,000 tonnes and reduced energy bills by approximately £770,000 over three years.

Work has been undertaken to reduce flood risk through the 'Co-Adapt' project, such as adjusting water management structures on the Somerset Levels, as well as work in Porlock Vale and the Culm Catchment area in the Blackdown Hills.

The Countryside Climate Network have also highlighted a number of factors which make tackling climate change more difficult in rural areas.

The group says it is harder for people to switch to sustainable transport due to the areas being more sparsely populated, and says there is a large rural funding gap in the amount of government cash available compared to urban and metropolitan areas.