A share of £8 million in Government funding will be invested in developing a comprehensive Cluster Plan to prepare the North West and North East Wales for a net zero future, removing over 40 million tonnes of carbon from the atmosphere every year and creating thousands of new jobs. The funding is the latest phase of the Government’s £170 million Industrial Decarbonisation Challenge to support industrially intensive areas to establish low carbon and net zero industrial clusters.
After presenting outputs from the first phase of its Cluster Plan to Government earlier this year, the industry-led group – which unites business, regional leaders and universities to drive investment into the net zero economy – has received UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) funding for the second phase of its work to become the UK’s first low carbon industrial cluster by 2030 and world’s first net zero industrial cluster by 2040.
The Cluster Plan will provide a deliverable investment, technology and infrastructure blueprint to support the region’s net zero transition and turbocharge its low carbon recovery post-COVID-19. The North West has the highest concentration of advanced manufacturing and chemicals production sites in the UK and the region is bringing forward a range of world-leading clean growth projects which will help the UK meet its legally binding net zero carbon emission targets.
It is estimated that the projects – which include: the pioneering hydrogen and carbon capture, utilisation and storage (CCUS) scheme, HyNet North West; the multi-billion pound Mersey Tidal scheme; a £500m smart energy grid at Ellesmere Port; and the UK’s first waste plastic to hydrogen facility at Protos in Cheshire – could create at least 33,000 new jobs, unlock £4 billion investment and result in more carbon savings than the annual carbon emissions of all North West homes.
Carl Ennis, Chairman, Net Zero North West said: “Across renewables, hydrogen, CCUS, nuclear and smart grids, our region is in a truly unique position to become a world-leader in clean growth. Our cluster is already delivering on the ground and paving the way towards a net zero future, which will protect the manufacturing jobs that have made this region thrive and create a sustainable pipeline of new high value green jobs for our region.
“With the Prime Minister recently laying out his ten-point plan for a green industrial revolution, this new roadmap funding is a timely vote of confidence in our ability to deliver industrial decarbonisation in the North West and make a significant and rapid contribution to the UK’s net zero emission targets.”
Steve Rotheram, Mayor of the Liverpool City Region said: “The climate emergency is a challenge that we cannot afford to ignore and we aren’t in the Liverpool City Region. We were the first region to declare a climate emergency but we’re not content to just talk about doing the right thing. We’re following up with firm action: with plans to be net zero carbon a whole decade before national targets and an ambition to be the UK’s renewable energy coast, with world-leading expertise in hydrogen and tidal, as part of our plans for Mersey Tidal Power – a project with the potential to provide enough clean, predictable energy to power a million homes.”
Andy Burnham, Mayor of Greater Manchester said: “We’re already taking urgent action to tackle climate change in Greater Manchester and create a clean, green and vibrant city-region. Decarbonising industry and our energy supplies means a new approach where, working together, the North West can create a blueprint for the world. We were the home of the industrial revolution, we can now be the home of a green revolution.”
Clare Hayward MBE, Chair of the Cheshire and Warrington Local Enterprise Partnership said: “We have a high concentration of industry and manufacturing in Cheshire and Warrington. To protect and grow these high-quality jobs we need to take action to reduce our carbon emissions and safeguard these industries. We must work together across the public and private sector, and across the region, to deliver decarbonisation and drive economic growth. The Cluster Plan will be an important part of making that happen.”
The funding has been awarded to a consortium including Net Zero North West, Peel L&P Environmental, the North West Business Leadership Team, Cadent, SP Energy Networks, Progressive Energy, Uniper UK and ENGIE. It is also supported by the Growth Platform (representing all North West Local Enterprise Partnerships), Cheshire and Warrington LEP and the University of Chester.
The shaping of phase 1 of the Cluster Plan began in June 2020. The consortium is now progressing the project to phase 2 which will start in early 2021 and be delivered over a two-year period. The Cluster Plan will recommend the technologies, infrastructure changes and investment necessary to transition the North West, working with North East Wales, to net zero carbon by 2040.
The funding is being administered by UKRI as part of the Industrial Decarbonisation Challenge. This is an element of the £4.7 billion Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund, also managed by UKRI, which was set up to boost investment in research and development to strengthen UK science and business.