Northern Powerhouse must lead clean energy revolution, Chancellor told
Chancellor George Osborne is being urged to fire up his ailing Northern Powerhouse agenda and transform the region into a global clean energy hub, ahead of the Budget next week.
More than 80 organisations across Northern England have signed up to a declaration, calling on the Government to back renewable energy across the regions. So far negotiations about the Northern Powerhouse have ignored the need for new energy infrastructure.
The signatories – which include the Greater Manchester Combined Authority, businesses, communities investing in small-scale renewable projects and nature conservation organisations – want to see the region benefit from renewables and smart energy technologies.
The call follows a recent report from industry body Energy UK calling for a ‘smart energy future’ and stating that the UK’s energy sector is ready to deliver affordable, reliable and clean energy.
In the declaration sent to the Chancellor, the signatories state: “The North is already designing, building and exporting the new low carbon products and services that the whole world wants and has committed to buy, from wind turbines to electric vehicles.
“Renewable energy, efficient homes and workplaces and smart technologies will all support local jobs and businesses. And they enable communities to shape their own energy futures, as towns and villages across the North have done since Baywind in Cumbria, which was the UK’s first ever renewable energy co-operative.
“The future we want is one with clean air, healthy people and resilient communities. To make this vision real, the 2016 Budget must enable us to develop and grow renewables for our region into the 2020s.”
According to analysis from the Green Alliance and RHI data obtained from Freedom of Information requests, the North of England currently has enough solar PV to power half a million homes, enough onshore wind capacity to power one million homes, and enough offshore wind capacity to power 1.5 million homes.
Councillor Kate Chappell, executive member for the environment at Manchester City Council, said that as a city which was integral to the Industrial Revolution, Manchester is ideally placed to help lead the next global transformation – towards clean energy.
“We have signed a pledge to move towards being exclusively powered by clean energy by 2050,” she said. “We will continue to develop the emerging Manchester Strategy, which explains our commitment to reducing the city’s carbon footprint.”
Kings of the North
The declaration also reflects concern over the extreme wet weather that badly affected parts of the North this winter. It links this with the need to shift to renewable energy to reduce the risk of extreme weather from climate change.
The national trade union has previously stated that Northern counties could become leading low-carbon industrial zones for the UK, but punitive Government policy is putting that potential at risk.
With businesses in Manchester saving more than £100m through energy efficiency schemes, sustainable businesses are heading north to reap the benefits.
Waste and water giant Veolia wants Leeds to become “a hub for circular economy innovation“, while the world’s first biogas plant that can handle unsorted and untreated household waste will be built in Northwich in Cheshire by DONG Energy.