Grants to strengthen Midlands green business drive

An environmental network aimed to help small and medium sized businesses invest in technology and access local training courses has been launched this week by the East Midlands New Technology initiative (NTI).

Existing regulations and taxes relating to energy use and waste disposal can have a big impact on businesses and their profitability, so the NTI hopes its Energy and Environment Network will provide guidance and support for smaller firms.

Initially concentrating on waste management, renewable energy and energy efficiency issues, the network will target companies in all sectors that may have energy or environmental needs.

Businesses wishing to invest in high technology and skills could benefit from NTI grants worth up to £5,000 and will also be able to trial specific equipment before deciding on whether or not they wish to buy it.

Energy and environment issues have been identified as areas of key economic importance to businesses in the East Midlands, and the increasing amount of waste and energy related legislation, both at the UK and the EU level, is currently at the forefront of many business agendas.

For instance, companies producing less than 10 tonnes of food waste now require an on-site processing solution, Landfill Tax will rise steeply from £15 to £35 per tonne by 2011, and restrictions controlling animal by-products and former foodstuffs have tightened considerably.

By using the network, businesses will be able to get advice about meeting new regulations while avoiding fines, reducing costs and improving environmental performance.

All UK companies need to make the environment a business priority, the NTI says, in response to the challenge to increase energy efficiency under national commitments to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 60% by 2050.

Businesses will also be able to use to network to train staff, and obtain grants to colleges and universities to provide special training that they would otherwise be unable to finance.

“The combination of funding and NTI approved courses is a winning formula,” East Midlands NTI chair of board Mich Steveson OBE stated. “Through the use of high tech equipment and advanced technical skills, businesses are growing, increasing their ability to make a significant contribution to the local economy.”

By Jane Kettle

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