The South West: ever greener

Way back when we announced our new social enterprise status on the blog, we mentioned in passing our award of a contract to run an £8million scheme to boost the green economy in the South West.

We wouldn’t expect you to remember that, so the good news is that now the scheme’s officially off the ground we can jog your memories with lots more detail.

Ready to Retrofit is supported by the European Regional Development Fund, and has some unashamedly ambitious aims: namely driving a regional green economy worth £2.75billion in sales and 2,000 jobs by 2020.

So what’s the plan?

Broadly, to help local businesses prepare for the eco-refurbishment of tens of thousands of homes by 2020 and take advantage of the huge opportunities presented by Government initiatives including the Green Deal, Feed-in Tariff, Renewable Heat Incentive and Energy Company Obligation. Wide-ranging stuff indeed.

More specifically, it will mean more than £6.5m invested in energy efficiency and micro-generation measures for social housing. There will be opportunities for staff development, bringing new goods and services to market, added technical know-how and targeted marketing.

The scheme will also help local trades people to improve their energy-efficiency knowledge so they can identify energy savings for their customers – well in line with the importance of robust training we blogged about last week.

The South West has always tended to trail-blaze in this kind of field – it’s just sometimes every grass-roots clamour needs a bit of cash injection to leap onwards to the next level.

We’ve been long involved in the work of Regen SW, who really fly the flag for renewables and energy efficiency in the region. Not surprisingly, we’ll be partnering with them on this, as well as with social housing providers and local authorities.

You might want to know what the people involved have to say about it all.

Our very own Head of South England, Ian Hutchcroft: “This is a major break-through for the South West…This initiative will leave a legacy of a strong green economy, new jobs and a skilled workforce.”

Merlin Hyman, Chief Executive of Regen SW: “Ready for Retrofit will be working with the great businesses in the South West to equip them with the skills and knowledge to lead the way in this rapidly developing market.”

Councillor William Mumford, Cabinet Member for Economic Regeneration and Strategic Planning, Devon County Council: “The project will enable Devon businesses in this sector to grow, create new jobs at the same time as delivering a major refurbishment of the housing stock in the county.”

Some good news all round then, and another example of how local partnership-working is still proving the way to thrive in tough economic times.