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Cheshire and Warrington sets out ambitions to be a net zero world leader

LEP Clean Energy Cheshire and Warrington Cheshire Science Corridor 27/10/2021

Set out ambitions ahead of COP26.

Cheshire and Warrington has set out its ambitions to be a world leader in net zero carbon energy, innovation and technology ahead of COP26.

At Cheshire and Warrington Local Enterprise Partnership’s economic summit, held just weeks before the global climate conference COP26, it reaffirmed its commitments to reach net zero and urged businesses to take the lead and put into action the changes required to achieve net zero.

A poll held of businesses at the event found that more than 90% of those in attendance regarded the transition to net zero as an opportunity for their business and not a risk.

The sub-region is home to one of the highest polluting industrial clusters in the country, near Ellesmere Port, and therefore recognises the importance of the shared responsibility to reach the net zero commitments.

Last week it was announced that the low carbon and hydrogen energy project HyNet North West, including the potential for hydrogen production plants at Ellesmere Port, has been selected by the Government as a lead project for investment and could receive major funding.

Cheshire and Warrington is one of the first areas in the country to put together a decarbonisation investment plan, unlocking £1billion of capital investment.

Cheshire and Warrington LEP Chair, Clare Hayward MBE, DL, said: “We have made huge commitments to hit Net Zero, we have a clear long-term vision and now we need to work together to activate the changes.  We know that each choice we make now will impact people for many generations ahead.  Cheshire and Warrington can lead, the businesses in our region can lead and we individually can all lead the change, it is urgent, so we need to be fast, efficient and effective.

“HyNet is a great announcement and very timely. This will enable us to implement some of the critical changes required and builds on the many firsts we have in Cheshire and Warrington, including the North West’s first hydrogen re-fuelling station and the first all-electric vehicle manufacturing plant.

“We have identified a £1billion investment portfolio in the region and through a combination of Private and Government investment we will be able to convert words into action. Working closely with our investors is a critical step on the path to achieving net zero.

“We have the knowledge, we have the expertise and we have the opportunity to drive the journey to net zero.  Our region has already demonstrated that we can be a world leader in zero carbon energy, innovation and technology which will enable us to be able to reach net zero.  We recognise it is a massive challenge and we also recognise that it is a massive opportunity but it is certainly one that we have to grasp.

“We need honest conversations about the challenges and honest conversations about the individual choices we have to make, so let’s work together to make those choices, because it is now that is the critical time.”

The economic summit also provided the opportunity to reflect on the past 18 months and the impact of the pandemic on businesses.

Clare said: “We know a lot of businesses across the region have had an extraordinarily difficult time and we are conscious that for many, they are still having an extraordinarily difficult time. We have also seen businesses reimagine their commercial models, channels to customers and their ways of working. I am very proud of the LEP team because they stepped up to the challenge and stepped in to provide support.

“We worked closely with all of our partners. Our local authority partners, partners across the private and the voluntary sector and it has been quite incredible to see the level of collaboration.”

The LEP will also continue to focus on the longer term vision.

Clare said: “Our vision is for Cheshire and Warrington to be the healthiest, most sustainable and inclusive economy in the country.  We have a central role to play in developing this economy by supporting businesses to innovate, create good quality jobs for local people, tackle the digital divide exposed by the virus and ensuring that education and training provision helps people develop the future skills that businesses need.”

Read the Annual Review here