The LEP Energy Strategy reviews current policies and considers the possibilities and funding available for the transition to a low carbon economy.
The Marches Energy Strategy was officially launched in July 2019. The Strategy, funded by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), recognises that the way energy is generated and consumed in the UK is changing and the challenges that will need to be faced. The current energy infrastructure is already at capacity in many areas and this presents both a threat to future business and housing development. There is an opportunity to invest in innovation that can overcome these challenges while providing a unique selling point for those in the energy supply chain to invest in the area.
The 10-year energy strategy and implementation plan aims to address many of the issues surrounding energy management in the Marches region.
In order to deliver these goals a Steering Group with representatives from business, communities and the local authorities has been formed. The Steering Group reports regularly on the progress made; updates will be posted here.
At the start of 2021, the LEP Board discussed how it could strengthen its support of The Marches Energy Strategy, particularly with a view to ongoing changes to the energy policy landscape, and support for the delivery of projects to help meeting net-zero challenges and other energy-related issues raised in the Marches. The Board proposed that a LEP Energy Champion be appointed with the role of challenging decisions taken by the LEP to ensure that energy is considered. Gordon Coppock was appointed to the role of Energy Champion in May 2021. The LEP is also supported in the delivery of the Energy Strategy by the Midlands Energy Hub. The Hub publishes a quarterly Newsletter, highlighting new developments across the Midlands.
During the fortnight of COP26, the Marches LEP supported the local councils to run several events. The programme highlighted the various themes of COP26 to wider community audiences. The events ranged from an EV Demonstrator Day in Shropshire to an educational arts project highlighting the importance of protecting our oceans and marine life from single-use plastics in Telford & Wrekin. Furthermore, in Herefordshire the Beryl Bike hire scheme was made free during the whole of COP to encourage more sustainable transport. There was also local walks, talks and other promotional events throughout to engage with a wide-ranging audience. There were also a large number of Case Studies from across the UK being pulled together to inspire others into action.
The need to develop new, sustainable, sources of energy could not be more pressing – and the Marches is playing a leading role. The importance of environmental technology to the Marches economy is significant. The recent report produced by kMatrix and Sustainability West Midlands for the Marches puts the value at £1.8Bn per annum, and supports 700 companies and 12,000 jobs.
The Low Carbon and Environmental Goods and Services sector study was commissioned by Nottingham City Council on behalf of the Midlands Energy Hub, sponsored by the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), and its stakeholders across the Midlands including the Marches Local Enterprise Partnership and the 3 Local Authorities. The study was commissioned with the aim of understanding the current state of the sector, where support is needed to help grow the sector across the Midlands from a Local Authority level to a regional level and the role the sector can play to drive a low-carbon recovery from Covid-19.
We are already a national leader in the use of anaerobic digestion to generate power and now have the opportunity to play a similar role in the fields of water management and looking after the countryside.
Our new Energy Strategy sets a target of 50 per cent of all electricity to come from renewable sources by 2030 and the creation of 1,000 low carbon jobs.
There is scope to further develop our expertise in anaerobic digestion and other forms of renewable energy. There are large-scale opportunities to roll out solar panels in homes, commercial premises, and, in some cases, solar farms. There are also opportunities to link these renewable energy systems to the energy storage sector, including kinetic energy storage and compressed gas systems.
We also see significant potential for the Marches to develop strengths in natural resource management through the use of environmental sensors, energy efficiency techniques, energy requirement minimisation, waste management, water supply management, and air pollution management.
The LEP seeks to emphasise the opportunities for the Marches by highlighting the links between future economic growth and our natural capital. In order to drive inclusive, clean growth there is a critical need for our business base become more productive and efficient so that they can survive in challenging economic situations and succeed in a world where energy costs are rising.
The Marches LEP is supported by the Marches Nature Partnership which is an informal association between the Shropshire, Telford & Wrekin Local Nature Partnership and the Herefordshire Local Nature Partnership. The Marches LEP has contributed to the development of the Marches Nature Partnership Marches Environmental Strategy – Strategic Visions and Priorities 2019-23 which is currently being finalised.
The Strategic Economic Plan highlights the ambition that our emerging environmental technologies sector has to be at the forefront of developing low carbon supply chains and in becoming a national leader in natural resources management. The implementation of the Marches LEP Energy Strategy will be critical to this.
Funded by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, the Midlands Energy Hub is one of five local Energy Hubs in England. Each Energy Hub provides Local Enterprise Partnerships, local authorities and others, with practical support to develop local energy projects. For further information about the work of the Midlands Energy Hub, contact:
Tim Yair – Marches Regional Senior Energy Project Officer