Exclusive: Hopes of jobs boom for region in drive to go green
YORKSHIRE is poised for a massive expansion of park-and-ride schemes, wood-pellet boilers and home insulation initiatives as part of a major green investment drive to save slash carbon emissions by one-third and create 1,000 jobs per year.
A new report, thought to be the first of its kind in the world, will be published today outlining in forensic detail how the Leeds city region – which incorporates the whole of West Yorkshire as well as York, Barnsley, Harrogate and Craven – can take advantage of the global drive towards a low carbon economy.
The two-year-study, undertaken by academics at Yorkshire’s Centre for Low Carbon Studies, will conclude that the region could slash carbon emissions by one-third purely through profitable measures, according to Leeds City Council chief executive Tom Riordan.
He described the opportunity as a “win-win-win” for the city region, with investment in green measures offering a way to help residents and businesses save money on fuel bills, create much-needed new jobs and cut carbon emissions at the same time.
Mr Riordan said the new study will now be used as an evidence base to push ahead with a multi-million pound programme of both public and private investment – creating 1,000 jobs per year across the city region.
“Some people have been sceptical about the additional cost of moving towards this low-carbon economy,” Mr Riordan said.
“There’s been a feeling in some quarters that that was for the good times, and that in difficult times we’ve got to forget about ‘nice to do’ things like tackling climate change.
“But the headlines that come out of this study – basically that we could reduce our carbon emissions by a third through purely profitable activities, and at the same time create 1,000 jobs per year – are so very impressive.
“If you put to one side the moral imperative to do something, and just look purely in economic terms at where the heck the jobs are going to come from – given that most sectors are having to lose jobs to become more competitive, and the public sector is contracting – there are only a few sectors in the economy where you are likely to see real jobs growth. I think it makes a lot of economic sense for us to pursue this very strongly and very aggressively.
“What this report demonstrates very clearly is that rather than being a ‘nice to do’, this is a ‘must do’ for an economy which wants to become more competitive and at the same time help its poorest people into jobs and to cope with very difficult and stretching financial conditions.”
Mr Riordan said the report makes clear the huge benefits to the region of expanding existing successful schemes such as Kirklees Council’s Warm Zone home improvement programme, Leeds City Council’s “Wrap Up Leeds” insulation drive and York Council’s extensive park-and-ride network.
“The area where York has done very well in the city region, and that I think more of us want to follow suit on, is transport and park and ride,” Mr Riordan said.
“What this study shows is if we could put in place a really good park and ride system, integrated across the city region, across West Yorkshire and particularly coming into Leeds, then obviously there are direct savings on fuel bills for individuals and on car parking charges as well.”
He said the council-led home insulation schemes in Leeds and Kirklees also represent a “taste of things to come” and that part of the £23.9m Growing Places grant handed to the city region’s Local Enterprise Partnership by the Government in November could be channelled into similar programmes across the region.
The projects offered free or subsidised cavity wall insulation and other similar energy-saving measures to tens of thousands of local residents.
“They are the sorts of things we will want to do more of, and roll out further,” he said. “The ‘Growing Places’ fund is one of the routes to this.”
Mr Riordan also said that local schools, large housing developments and businesses would be encouraged to take advantage of the Government’s new Renewable Heat Incentive scheme, whereby cash payments are made by Whitehall to organisations which heat their premises using green methods such as wood pellet boilers and ground-source heat pumps.
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Friday 24 May 2013
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