Climate Change Emergency: Rural Decarbonisation Challenge

What are the decarbonisation challenges facing rural North East England communities? How might we develop sustainable social, technical and financial solutions to support them?

The challenge aims to address those big questions and is keen to work with community organisations and rural businesses that are already developing and delivering innovative solutions to the decarbonisation issue, have identified an opportunity that they need support to develop further or have not even thought about what decarbonisation means but are keen to explore this area. Researchers, experts, designers, innovators, technologists and anyone else interested in this field are also encouraged to participate.

This is the first briefing session which will move in to a more detailed define and develop session that delegates are encouraged to attend in Stannington on December 9th. 1:1 support will be provided for the development of the strongest ideas.


Nick Devitt

Founding Director at Innovation Scout Ltd and Associate Innovation Manager at the Innovation SuperNetwork

Nick graduated as a product designer from Northumbria University in 1991, after working in new product development research he founded Presence, a Digital Media Company in 1999 and Innovation Scout in 2008 . He has deployed Design Thinking as a method to innovate throughout his career. He has worked with a number of organisations over 25 years including The Innovation Unit and Design Council in London, RNLI in Poole initiating  product and service design / innovation projects in healthcare, education, public service and FMCG. Nick and his company Innovation Scout Ltd have identified opportunities and delivered innovation and service design with amongst others, Johnson & Johnson, Reckitt Benckiser, Ordnance Survey (Geovation), NCFE, Camden and Northumberland Councils and 100’s of smaller companies. He also works as an Innovation Specialist for RTC North supporting SME businesses in the North East.

David Lynch

Energy Innovation Partnership Manager at the North East LEP

David has 15 years’ experience working in the energy sector and attained a MA by Research at Durham University in 2014.  Having worked at National Energy Action (NEA) and the Energy Systems Catapult David is skilled in business planning, environmental awareness and project management. David look up the position of Energy Innovation and Partnership Manager in October this this year leading on the North East Energy Catalyst programme, a ground-breaking partnership to unite the North East’s leading energy innovation demonstration and delivery capabilities.

Josh Sawyer

Rural Energy Officer at the North East LEP

Josh is the Rural Energy Officer at the North East Local Enterprise Partnership and works to identify, develop and deliver rural energy projects across the diverse geographies of the North East. Josh is an advocate for rural energy projects, providing technical assessment and business case guidance, connecting and co-ordinating stakeholders and identifying routes to funding. Josh is also the point of contact for the Rural Community Energy Fund, encouraging and supporting community organisations to apply to the fund to develop their own community energy projects.

Allie Hesketh

Assistant Environment Adviser - National Farmers Union (NFU)

Allie works for the National Farmers Union (NFU) as their Assistant Environment Adviser in the North East, she covers a range of issues for farming members in the area from net zero to flooding and future farm support. Originally from a family farm in Lancashire, Allie studied Agriculture at Newcastle University, going on to work within the horticultural and potato industries in various capacities before joining the NFU in 2018. She is also the vice chairman of the Future Farmers of Yorkshire Organisation, part of the Yorkshire Agricultural Society, and a keen runner (when she finds the time!).