Northern leaders urge Government to focus green industrial revolution on North

Professor Anthony Hollander, PVC for Research & Impact at the University of Liverpool, is amongst a group of leading figures from business and academia urging Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Chancellor Rishi Sunak to harness the opportunities available across the North of England in order to fulfil the government’s 10 point green industrial revolution plan.

Ahead of next week’s conclusion of the one year Spending Review, the N8 Research Partnership, the strategic collaboration of the eight research-intensive universities in the North, the Northern Powerhouse Partnership (NPP) and Eden Project North have joined forces to ask the government to give their support to schemes and projects that will drive the UK’s green future and help deliver the aims of the plan, unveiled earlier this week.

These projects include N8 and NPP’s Net Zero North (NzN), which will connect the Northern Powerhouse’s science and research capabilities, skills providers and businesses to forge a green recovery from COVID-19 while simultaneously putting the UK at the forefront at the global drive for net zero carbon.

Three parallel, pan-northern projects within NzN (Grow Smarter, Sustainable Hydrogen Economy and Skills and Productivity) will accelerate economic growth by creating new jobs in the green economy and upskilling the workforces in economically challenging towns, cities and rural and coastal locations, supporting firms to innovate and adopt low carbon business models while creating large numbers of meaningful employment opportunities.

The Skills and Productivity element of NzN will see the creation of a green-skills ladder promoting upskilling of the Northern workforce for a sustainable and resource-efficient society. The NzN Skills Alliance will see the establishment of skills hubs in Teesside (Sustainable Hydrogen Economy) and Eden North (Grow Smarter).

Eden Project North in Morecambe, Lancashire is proposed as a year-round destination that would combine indoor and outdoor experiences, connecting people with the internationally-significant natural environment of Morecambe Bay. It is run by the team behind the Eden Project in Cornwall, which has injected more than £2bn into the south west regional economy. A business case has been submitted to Government, asking for £70m to make Eden Project North a reality.

Eden Project North would deliver significant economic, environmental and social benefits for Lancashire and the wider North West region, as well as contributing to the wider levelling-up agenda and the government’s 25-year Environment Plan.

Eden Project North is projected to attract around one million visitors a year and directly employ more than 400 people. The business case estimates a visitor spend of more than £200m per year in the region (not including money spent at Eden Project North) which would support an additional 1,500 jobs.

Professor Anthony Hollander, PVC Research & Impact at University of Liverpool, chair of the N8 Strategic Executive Group and lead for the N8 Net Zero North submission said: “The N8 and other Northern universities involved in NzN will play a key role in driving growth of the green economy, working closely with industry, FE colleges and third sector partners. We are particularly excited about the opportunities that will come from co-locating one of our proposed skills hubs with Eden Project North, enabling us to join forces in training the green economy workforce and bringing state-of-the-art knowledge about Net Zero to the people of the north in an exciting and accessible way.”

Dr Annette Bramley, director of the N8 Research Partnership, said: “The Prime Minister’s ten point plan outlined earlier this week was very encouraging, particularly the commitment to using the green recovery as a means to push forward the levelling up agenda. The North of England has been particularly badly hit by COVID-19, both in terms of the health and economic costs. It is imperative therefore that programmes such as Net Zero North and Eden Project North, which creatively harness the potential and vast natural resources of the region, receive the support they need in order to help create meaningful employment opportunities and the development of a sustainable hydrogen economy.

“Supporting these projects would propel forward the government’s green industrial revolution while creating much needed jobs and training in the northern communities that need it most. However, the positive impact on the economy and climate would be felt not just in the north but the whole country and would cement the UK as a leader in the journey to zero carbon. We believe this is an opportunity too good for the government to miss.”

Lord Jim O’Neill, vice-chair of the Northern Powerhouse Partnership, said: “Decarbonisation and working towards Net Zero here in the North has the potential to secure and create thousands of new skilled jobs, bringing huge economic growth in the process.

“The North is already leading the world in developing sustainable energy technologies. We now need more investment in innovation and skills targeted at sectors such as hydrogen converted from the electricity of Small Modular Reactors and offshore wind.

“This effort can drive forward levelling up and the recovery at the same time, ensuring those who leave sectors in crisis can – through skills investment – join growing parts of the skilled energy workforce.”

David Harland, chief executive of Eden Project International, said: “We welcome the Government’s commitment to a green recovery and feel that we and our partners are in an excellent position to create a massive positive impact for the north of England. Eden Project North is ‘shovel-ready’ and poised to become a green beacon for the region, generating revenue, creating meaningful jobs and acting as an exemplar for the best environmental practices in tourism, construction and transport.

“Together with our friends at N8 and NPP and their groundbreaking Net Zero North initiative, we firmly believe that we can be a crucial part of securing a green recovery for the north, creating a lasting legacy of economic, environmental and social prosperity.”

Eden Project North’s spending review submission was prepared in collaboration with Lancashire County Council, Lancaster City Council, Lancaster University and the Lancashire Enterprise Partnership.

The N8 Research Partnership (N8) is a strategic collaboration between the universities of Durham, Lancaster, Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester, Newcastle, Sheffield, and York, and aims to maximise the impact of this research base to enable business innovation and societal transformation.

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