MPs set out vision for net-zero Northern Powerhouse

Conservative MPs representing the North of England believe that the Government's Ten Point Plan and the net-zero target can contribute to a levelling up agenda that would create thousands of green jobs in the North.

MPs set out vision for net-zero Northern Powerhouse

The MPs are calling for the Government to level up areas of the North through green measures

Writing in an essay collection published by the Conservative Environment Network, 10 MPs from the North of England and Tees Valley Mayor Ben Houchen have called on the Government to create a “net-zero Northern Powerhouse” that taps into key technologies that will be crucial in meeting the net-zero target for 2050.

The essay claims that the Government’s £4bn “levelling up” fund, designed to help cities, towns and regions improve infrastructure and skills, can be driven by the long-term net-zero transition.

The MPs not that many clean industries are currently based in the North of England, including the UK’s world-leading offshore wind sector, major electric vehicle manufacturing hubs and key industrial clusters that are exploring hydrogen and carbon capture and storage.

Minister for Regional Growth and Local Government, Luke Hall MP wrote: “The North of England was the birthplace of the industrial revolution, powered by coal. It is now set to be the birthplace of the green industrial revolution, powered by clean renewable energy.

“From offshore wind and hydrogen, to carbon capture and electric vehicles, the region is home to world-leading innovations, conceived in northern minds and built by northern hands. This essay collection sets out a vision for a Net Zero Northern Powerhouse which is already on its way to being realised.”

The MPs are calling for the Government to level up areas of the North through green measures. A retrofit programme, for examples, would make homes more energy-efficient and should utilise heat pumps and rooftop solar installations. This should start in Yorkshire, the essay notes, and would be supported by government-led funding and municipal green bonds for local authorities.

Other suggestions include the creation of Net-Zero Institute of Technology in Cumbria and support for floating wind in the North West through ‘Innovative Power Purchasing Agreements’ where corporates can directly buy energy from small-scale generators. A £50m hydrogen bus trial in the Tees Valley and support for green steel and cement production through a border carbon adjustment mechanism on imported carbon-intensive goods would also assist the net-zero target, the MPs add.

Green revolution

According to the REA, the UK Government can deliver an 85% increase in renewable and clean technology jobs in a decade by implementing better taxation systems and outlining a roadmap for net-zero emissions.

Of the potential new jobs, the report found that 46,000 jobs are expected to be in the north of England, which is currently home to a number of carbon-intensive job clusters.

Last month, BP, Eni, Equinor, Shell and Total signed up to spearhead the development of the Net-Zero Teesside project, for example, that aims to develop the UK’s first decarbonised industrial cluster through the use of carbon capture, utilisation and storage technology (CCUS). Research suggests that Net-Zero Teesside will deliver £450m in annual benefits to the area and support up to 5,500 direct jobs.

The Government is aiming to establish the “world’s first net-zero carbon industrial cluster by 2040 and at least one low-carbon cluster by 2030”, as part of the Industrial Clusters MissionIt opened two innovation funds in October aimed at helping businesses located in key industrial clusters to plan and deploy technology to help reach net-zero emissions by 2050. Up to £140m could then be accessed by successful applicants. 

Matt Mace

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