New Anglia to lead the way on green energy
PUBLISHED: 06:30 16 September 2011
Norfolk and Suffolk are to lead the way in the UK’s shift towards a low-carbon economy after the New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) was chosen by the Government as the country’s “Green Pathfinder LEP”,
New Anglia chairman Andy Wood yesterday confirmed the move yesterday at the partnership’s Open For Business conference, held at The Apex in Bury St Edmunds and attended by around 250 business repre-sentatives from across the region.
“Over the next few weeks we will be working with the government to identify how this exciting project can be taken forward and the resources required,” he added.
Dr Wood told delegates that, together with tourism, energy was one of the key sectors identified by the board as a priority for the region, although it also recognised potential in other areas including creative industries, food, drink and agriculture, life and bio-sciences, ICT, advanced manufacturing and financial services.
Among early successes for New Anglia was government approval of the partnership’s bid for an Enterprise Zone to be established in Great Yarmouth and Lowestoft, focused on the energy sector, while the LEP also welcomed the recent launch of Visit East Anglia, a private sector-led initiative to take on the promotion of Suffolk and Norfolk’s tourism industries, together worth around £4.5bn a year, added Dr Wood.
Chris Starkie, joint lead of the New Anglia LEP transition team, said the Enterprise Zone involved six development-ready sites where new and expanding businesses would benefit from a simplified planning regime, support for the roll-out of superfast broadband and, for small firms, relief on business rates.
The government had required each Enterprise Zone bid to be focused on a specific sector, to discourage firms from relocating purely to gain rate relief, and the New Anglia bid – one of 11 chosen from a total of 29 submitted – had been put together by the Norfolk and Suffolk Energy Alliance, consisting of local authorities, the East of England Energy Group and the Suffolk and Norfolk chambers of commerce, with the LEP playing a co-ordinating role.
Two other areas would also benefit from the planning concessions, with existing local firms also standing to benefit from expanded supply chain opportunities, a higher profile for the area and possible investment in infrastructure, he added.
The conference also included presentation on the opportunities for companies in the region represented by EDF Energy’s plans for a new nuclear power station at Sizewell.
Tom McGarry, senior communi-cations manager for the firm’s Sizewell C project, said EDF would work to maximise supply chain oppor- tunities for nearby firms and liaise with skills providers to help ensure that labour was sourced locally.
He said that around 690 East Anglian firms had been involved in the construction of Sizewell B and EDF would aim to match this, with the peak number of jobs on site during the seven- to eight-year construction phase likely to hit 5,600.
Keith Brown, chief executive of Visit East Anglia, said that with funding for tourism continuing to fall, the tourism sector would need “to do more for less” in terms of promotion and marketing.
Yesterday’s conference also included a presentation by Jerome Mayhew, managing director of East Anglia-based activity centre chain Go Ape!, who explained its rapid growth since its formation in 2002 and how it had overcome various challenges.
Alistair Lang, chief executive of regional law firm Birketts, and Chris Maw, senior partner at accountancy firm PricewaterhouseCooper, the main sponsors of the conference, also conducted a discussion of broad issues surrounding growth.
Dr Wood said that, having only been approved five months ago, the LEP remained very much “in listening mode” and was keen to hear from the region’s businesses about their needs.
“This is your LEP, not anyone else’s,” he added.