AN initiative by a town’s business leaders to take a joined-up approach to tackling environmental challenges has been taken to “an exciting new level”.

Earlier this year, a collection of key Darlington employers came together to share good practice and develop links around Net Zero targets.

The idea was initiated by Darlington Building Society, with the inaugural meeting of the Darlington Employers Environment Partnership (DEEP) hosted by engine manufacturer Cummins.

A second meeting of the group has now been held at Teesside International Airport, and was hosted by Corstorphine and Wright, an award-winning national architectural company, with a base in Darlington.

The meeting heard that the management of the group will now come under Darlington Cares, a not-for-profit organisation, hosted by Darlington Borough Council to support key needs in the borough.

Darlington Cares Director Seth Pearson announced: “We will provide the group administrative support and structure, with a mechanism for measuring individual and collective progress because we have to be more than a talking shop.

“As we all move towards Net Zero, it will enable us to share good practice, knowledge and connections, while celebrating achievements, and building momentum.”

Mr Pearson said a steering group would be formed, with the aim of growing an affiliated membership, and linking in with sub-regional activity on the environment.

Organisations represented at the meeting were: Darlington Building Society, Redde Northgate, North Star Housing, BHP Law, Newlands Group, County Durham Community Foundation, Darlington Borough Council, Teesside University, Serco, and JBA Engineering.

Karen Crowe, Director and Head of ESG (Environmental, Social and Governance), gave a presentation on how reducing carbon emissions had been embedded across the company, which has been at the heart of the development of the airport, as well as other major projects across the North-East.

Tom Harrison, Associate Director of Corstorphine and Wright, showed members of the group around the modernised airport, and gave them an insight into the importance of design in meeting Net Zero targets.

Chris McEwan, Deputy Leader of Darlington Borough Council and Cabinet Member for the Economy, said: “It’s fantastic to see such an impressive range of organisations come together in the spirit of learning from each other and, with the support of Darlington Cares, this initiative is being taken to an exciting new level.”

David Bews, Chief Risk Officer for Darlington Building Society, said: “Our aim in launching this initiative was to form an alliance with other key local employers, enabling us to share good practice around Net Zero. It’s a challenge we all face, and we’re delighted to see the momentum building so quickly.”