Never a week goes by without someone asking me: “What exactly is this low carbon industry we are developing?”
Like many other areas across the country, Leicester and Leicestershire have prioritised growth in this sector. Though we should be clear this is about jobs and not being green.
UK government often has difficulty in recognising the current strength and presence of existing industry, let alone the presence of those in development. Despite this many statements have been made including those by Chris Huhne, when he stated “From electric vehicles to energy management, the global low-carbon and environmental goods and services sector is a £3.2 trillion market.”
Specifically highlighting the economic value in terms of job creation through the Green Deal, climate change minister Greg Barker stated: “the Green Deal will be a market which could support up to 65,000 jobs by 2015.” The Green Deal is forecast to drive spending of £1.4bn per year alone.
So it is up to local government and partners to bring together the drivers of market growth in their area for maximum effect. It is time for more local authorities and businesses to see the potential for low carbon infrastructure, investment and skills development.
Progress can be seen in areas such as Cornwall with deep Geothermal and land-based PV farms, and Peterborough with its aims to be a net generator of energy to name but two. In Leicester and Leicestershire we aim to ensure we have the skills and enterprise capacity to maximise the value of the research and development of the Energy Technology Institute, based in Loughborough.
However we are not alone and government administrations overseas are pouring money into the low carbon industry research, development and manufacturing with an eye on exporting to the UK. The opportunities for economic growth are here if we can move the focus to economic objectives. The recent news from the study undertaken by the Green Alliance, that 37% of local authorities questioned, said they were de-prioritising climate change work shows there is much work to be done.
Andrew Bacon, Chairman, Leicester and Leicestershire Enterprise Partnership (LLEP)