Enabling policies needed to accelerate Northern green economy, says Aldersgate Group

A comprehensive emission reduction plan and policy frameworks that enable the uptake of low-carbon projects are necessary to "champion investment" in the North, a new report from environmental coalition The Aldersgate Group has claimed.

According to the “Setting the pace: Northern England’s low-carbon economy” report, low-carbon projects – such as offshore wind and low emission vehicles – are contributing to increased economic activity in the region. Already, 136,000 jobs have been created in the North’s low-carbon sector, and the report has called on regional authorities to accelerate this growth in order to develop supply chains, generate clean energy, protect infrastructure and support skills and innovation in the region.

The Aldersgate Group’s chair Joan Walley said: “We’ve seen from the great case studies in this report that the low carbon economy is supporting economic growth in the North of England as well as helping deliver the UK’s climate change targets. Both national government and devolved local authorities should build on these successes and continue to champion investment into low carbon infrastructure in the North so that it can continue setting the pace.”

The report outlines key targets that the Government and authorities should target in order to supplement the Northern Powerhouse agenda, with the growth of the green economy acting as a catalyst. The report recommends that authorities introduce a clear and stable low-carbon policy landscape to deliver UK climate targets on time and within budget. Another key area to support is the promotion of local community participation opportunities to place a greater focus on developing co-ordinated low-carbon skills.

The report highlights peatland restoration projects in the Pennines being undertaken by Yorkshire Water – which recently commenced work on a £72m state-of-the-art anaerobic digestion (AD) plant – as an example of how new infrastructure should be “fit for purpose” in promoting climate resiliency and protecting natural environments.

The report also calls for a new Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) strategy, arriving on the same day that the Parliamentary Advisory Group warned that the UK’s climate targets will be at risk unless “immediate action” is taken to boost CCS growth.

Regenerative communities

DONG Energy has been one of the companies stimulating growth in the North through various offshore wind projects, including the 3GW Hornsea Zone project off the coast of Yorkshire, which will be able to provide power for 800,000 British homes once completed.

Commenting on the report, DONG Energy’s UK country chairman Brent Cheshire said: “We are beginning to see the benefits of sustained investment in renewable energy in the North of England. It is not only helping to regenerate communities which have lost their traditional industries, but building a robust supply chain and attracting international manufacturers to locate plants in the UK.”

The recommendations found in the Aldersgate report reflect attitudes of a number of sustainability professionals as evidenced in edie’s exclusive wishlist for the green economy, in which professionals called for consistent green policy and continuing green sector job growth.

Earlier in the year, we saw similar calls from green organisations to back renewable energy across the Northern regions to aid the Northern Powerhouse and transform the region into a clean energy hub for the UK.

Alex Baldwin & Matt Mace

Action inspires action. Stay ahead of the curve with sustainability and energy newsletters from edie