Money on offer to help with cuts in carbon

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THE window of opportunity is closing for Yorkshire companies to take advantage of European funding to help them to cut carbon emissions and costs.

The Environment Voucher scheme offers grants of up to £8,000 to small and medium-sized enterprises to help to pay for new equipment.

CO2Sense, the not-for-profit consultancy, is offering companies a free two-day environmental review to find areas where SMEs can reduce harmful greenhouse gases.

The review helps companies to identify possible investments, which CO2Sense can contribute towards from a £120,000 fund. The fund must be spent by March 2013.

Rick Hamilton, a director at the Leeds-based firm, said: “Sometimes the money invested can give payback within a year. At a time when grant funding is rare, here is a scheme aimed at SMEs to help them make big savings.”

Bradford Armature Winding Company used the scheme to buy a gas-fired blower to replace its oil-fired one.

Mr Hamilton said the voucher scheme contributed £8,000 towards the £20,000 cost. The investment is saving the company £6,000 a year, he added.

Chris Lawn, managing director at the electric motor business, said: “The project not only reduced our energy costs, but also improved the working environment and made significant cuts in our carbon emissions.

“We want our company to be as green as possible, so the investment and support was vital to help us to do this.”

Mr Hamilton said the scheme also paid £8,000 towards a £20,000 digital printer at ALD Print in Sheffield.

He said the investment reduced the company’s use of harmful chemicals and helped open up new markets.

Jonathan Carey Design, a specialist joinery and shop fitting business at Crosshills near Skipton, used to heat its premises with propane gas and electric fan heaters, said Mr Hamilton.

A £4,000 grant from the voucher scheme bought and installed a wood waste burner system, resulting in multiple savings.

CO2Sense was formerly a subsidiary of Yorkshire Forward, which set up the company to help businesses to grow and to cut carbon emissions in the region.

It is regarded as of the most successful off-shoots of the now-defunct regional development agency and was saved from the axe when the Government gave it the go-ahead to become an independent community interest company.

CO2Sense is working to develop an ambitious carbon capture and storage network in the Yorkshire region which could attract billions of pounds of inward investment and help to support around 55,000 jobs in sectors such as engineering, manufacturing and project management.

The company, based at Marshall’s Mill in Holbeck Urban Village, Leeds, has around 40 staff.

It is the headline sponsor for this year’s Yorkshire Post Environment Awards.

The annual awards showcase the most innovative and creative ways of contributing to the green agenda.

Mr Hamilton said the awards chimed with CO2Sense’s mission. He added: “We are trying to highlight the value and importance to business of making changes to reduce emissions.

“We also want SME owners and finance directors to understand that professionals are available to help them achieve these changes.”

Joanne Pollard, CEO of CO2Sense, said: “We want every SME in Yorkshire and the Humber to hear about the savings that they can make by cutting carbon emissions, and the free help that’s available thanks to our Environment Voucher scheme which is funded by the European Regional Development Fund.

“The Yorkshire Post Environment Awards are the perfect opportunity for getting this vital message out to the business community.”

As main sponsor, CO2Sense backs the coveted Environmental Business of the Year award. Past winners include dairy giant Arla, Bettys & Taylors of Harrogate and Yorkshire Bank.

The other categories are: Innovation, sponsored by Yorkshire Water; Community, sponsored by Banks Renewables; Young People’s Award, sponsored by Asda; Countryside, sponsored by Northern Gas Networks; Built environment (projects over £1m), sponsored by Grant Thornton; Green Champion, sponsored by the Yorkshire Post; Manufacturer of the best green product; Best environmental start-up and Climate Change.