Need to invest in 'green revolution' in the North, says civic and business leaders

The aftermath of the coronavirus pandemic should be used as a “turning point” to invest in a “green revolution” in the North to combat the glaring unemployment inequalities that are holding back Yorkshire communities, civic and business leaders across the region have said.

The call to action comes a leading think-tank has said “more ambition” in protecting the environment from Boris Johnson and his government could create more than 16,000 green jobs, including thousands across the region in the areas facing the most significant employment challenges.

The report published today (April 4), by the Green Alliance reveals across Yorkshire and Humber region 327,300 people were on furlough at the end of January 2021, and 168,600 people were receiving self-employment income support.

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Pictured, an image if degraded peatlands in Yorkshire. The Government must be more ambitious in creating more green jobs including opportunities to protect peatland in the region, the Green Alliance has said. Photo credit: Beth Thomas/The Wildlife Trust

While 9.9 per cent of 16-64 year olds were underemployed pre-pandemic across the region - a 39.2 per cent increase in underemployment between September 2019 to September 2020.

Results showed Hull East was the area constituency with the highest employment challenge in the region post pandemic, and four worst nationally, with a labour market score of 206, compared with the national average of 100. Washington and Sunderland West has the highest in England (239).

While Bradford East (149) follows - the 22nd worst nationally - with Bradford West (141) and then Leeds East (121) in Yorkshire and the Humber.

The Green Alliance alongside other environmental groups and civic and business leaders across the region are urging Chancellor Rishi Sunak to include environmental projects alongside other infrastructure as part of the Government’s “levelling-up” agenda.

Sheffield City Region mayor Dan Jarvis told The Yorkshire Post: “The climate and environment emergency is the greatest challenge we face. "We need to confront it urgently while also tackling the gross economic inequality in our society.” Photo credit: Chris Etchells

Across Yorkshire and the Humber this includes investing in protecting peatland across the ‘Great North Bog’ area, including in Thirsk, Skipton and Richmond. While there are further opportunities to create jobs in woodland creation, particularly in Skipton and Ripon, coastal restoration in the East Riding, and seagrass planting at Spurn Bight.

Sam Alvis from Green Alliance said: “The opportunity is there for the Chancellor to create a legacy of new high quality jobs across Britain.

"Supporting innovation in green jobs will put nature at the heart of the government’s levelling up agenda and help local communities build back better and greener.”

Yorkshire’s only metro mayor has warned that the Government must empower and invest in green jobs across the region to combat the “gross” economic inequalities that are holding back Yorkshire communities.

Henri Murison, the director of the Northern Powerhouse Partnership, said: “Yorkshire and the wider Northern Powerhouse already have much of the supply chain in place to maximise the economic opportunities." Photo credit: Jonathan Gawthorpe/JPIMediaResell

Sheffield City Region mayor Dan Jarvis told The Yorkshire Post: “The climate and environment emergency is the greatest challenge we face.

“We need to confront it urgently while also tackling the gross economic inequality in our society.”

While the Northern Powerhouse Partnership (NPP) - a lobbying group representing northern businesses - said long-term investment in a green economy in the North is “fundamental” to achieving net zero.

Henri Murison, the director of the NPP, said: “Yorkshire and the wider Northern Powerhouse already have much of the supply chain in place to maximise the economic opportunities.

Roger Marsh OBE, the Chairman of the Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership. Photo credit: Submitted picture

"Investing in sectors such as these will create thousands of well-paid, skilled jobs across the Northern Powerhouse, from Sheffield Forgemasters to Siemens factory in Hull, which makes blades for wind turbines."

Roger Marsh OBE - Chairman of the Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership, added: “The Green Industrial Revolution provides significant opportunity for the creation of good quality jobs across the North, particularly where employment remains a challenge as a result of the pandemic and long-standing issues.

“The job-creating potential is huge: not just in urban centres, in rural and coastal regions where opportunities like offshore wind, the circular economy, and use of natural capital are gathering pace.”

A Government spokesperson said: "As a world leader in the fight against climate change, our ambition to protect the planet goes hand in hand with supporting economic growth and prosperity across every region of the UK."

The spokesperson added the Government is "determined to seize the economic opportunities" and "build back greener" from the pandemic by supporting up to 2 million green jobs across the country by 2030.

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