Leeds City Region: Making low carbon economic development ‘business as usual’

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Reducing carbon has to demonstrate not just environmental benefits but economic and social ones as well. Melanie Taylor from LCR Secretariat  shows how they’ve mainstreamed low carbon growth into economic development strategy and delivery.

Our projects

Leeds City Region – a partnership of 11 Local Authorities covering West Yorkshire and parts of North and South Yorkshire, including the Local Enterprise Partnership tasked with developing economic development strategy and policy.

Over the last few the years, the work we’ve been doing has been less of a project and more of an on-going culture change to bring low carbon into the core of everything we do. We started by building a strong evidence base that clearly articulates the economic advantage of ‘going green’. The Leeds City RegionMini-Stern, which outlined the savings to the city region’s energy base together with the jobs and growth arising from investments in low carbon technologies, brought a real step change. It showed that the low carbon agenda was truly an economic, as well as environmental, issue.

With this evidence in hand, our Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) Board developed a new vision for a world leading, low carbon economy. The drive behind this ambition came, and continues to come from, the most senior levels of organisation – the Local Authorities Leaders and private sector members that make up our LEP Board. To support them, they established a Green Economy Panel; an expert group bringing together skills and experience from across the low carbon sector.

Successes and savings

Since the Panel was established (around 18 months ago) we’ve made significant progress to put low carbon at the heart of economic development in the Leeds City Region. Our successes have included:

  • Developing a city region wide scheme for delivery of Green Deal and ECO, building on an excellent track record in developing domestic retrofit
  • Launching a business support programme providing capital grants to SMEs for energy efficiency/generation interventions in their operations
  • Building in carbon efficiency into the West Yorkshire Plus Transport Fund
  • Launching a Revolving Investment Fund for low carbon construction projects

Attracting government funding for technical project development of district heat network schemes

Difficulties

We’re proud of our recent achievements, but clearly we’re still at the beginning of a long journey. Over the next year there are some exciting developments in the pipeline in terms of the devolution of funds from national to local government. We will have more control over where public funding is spent than ever before, and more opportunity to make our ambitions a reality. Ensuring that the future of public funding strongly supports the development of a low carbon economy will be a key test for the partnership and indeed LEPs across the country. But the work that we’ve done over the last year has put us in a good position to be able to be bold and ambitious and we’re looking forward to the challenge. For Calderdale and the other Local Authorities, the challenge will be to develop technically and commercially feasible local projects that can access this funding and make Calderdale’s energy future a reality.

Links

leedscityregion.gov.uk/our-work/green