A REGIONAL body bringing together public, private and third sector actors to support climate actions will initially focus on the pressing issues of employment and resilience to flooding, it has been revealed, ahead of its launch next week.

However, while the Yorkshire and Humber Climate Change Commission has appointed a board of experts to steer the body’s work and regional spokesmen, concerns and friction have already emerged over its make-up, both geographically and politically.

The commission’s brief is “to give Yorkshire and the Humber a louder, clearer and unified voice with which to call for the changes and support that we need to see at the national level” to achieve net-zero as swiftly as possible and at the same pace across the region.

While the commission is yet to appoint an independent chair, a meeting of the leaders of local authorities in York and North Yorkshire was told the board would feature bosses from the water, gas, electricity, renewable energy, transport and housing food and drink sectors, as well as unions, NHS, and environmental groups.

The meeting heard North York Moors National Park Authority chairman Jim Bailey question why the region’s three national parks and areas of outstanding natural beauty, to where many of the regions climate change-related issues are linked, were not being represented on the commission.

Harrogate council chief executive, who has been developing the commission, told the meeting a strong group would be in place to support the commission’s work from its outset and that Mr Bailey’s concerns would be considered.

The meeting also saw Harrogate council leader Councillor Richard Cooper accusing North Yorkshire and York’s council leaders of a “stitch up” over a proposal to make York councillor Keith Aspden the northern area’s representative.

As tensions mounted, Cllr Aspden agreed to step aside for Cllr Cooper to take the role in an attempt to avoid the councils’ body being forced into its first ever vote and “allegations of decisions being taken behind closed doors”.

The decision means while the commission will see Labour Party politicians Dan Jarvis and Jack Hemingway acting in high-profile roles as vice-chairs in South and West Yorkshire respectively, Tory Richard Cooper will be their counterpart in the northern area.

After the meeting, North Yorkshire County Council leader Councillor Carl Les said he believed the commission would see the region working together to deliver a unified message.

He said: “We do speak with one voice very well at times. We should not be in competition with each other about who’s doing what fastest and better. We should be identifying what is good and right to do and then getting together and doing it.”

Speaking about the commission’s initial focuses, Cllr Les said the impact of climate change on flooding had a big resonance in North Yorkshire, especially “further down river out of the Vale of York into York and the Selby area”.

He said: “We do seem to be having more flash flooding now than we’ve had in my lifetime. It is the issue that needs addressing most urgently.”

Cllr Les said the commission would be examining employment in green industries to make sure there are sufficient numbers of skilled workers available in the region to take advantage of green technologies.

He said: “It’s about making sure people are aware of the new industries and aware of the skill sets that are needed for those industries. We can then help to ensure colleges and educational providers are getting geared up to train people to take advantage of those new industries.”