Huge drive to help green growth across county

More than half a billion pounds could be redistributed to councils across Essex as local economic officials say they’re ready to help drive green growth.

The South East Local Enterprise Partnership says it is ready to use its significant influence to help drive green growth across Essex as huge funding pots are set to be redistributed to local councils.

And although the Government’s anticipated levelling up white paper will see The South East Local Enterprise Partnership’s (SELEP) direct influence on where money will be invested diminish, it adds its strategic role in helping get Essex to get to a low carbon economy will be at the core of its strategy.

SELEP, established in 2011 to drive economic growth across the south east including Essex, has already secured a total of £590m to fund Local Growth Fund investment.

Recently it has also help create two bodies helping business decarbonise which it says proves its credentials.

The Low Carbon Across the South and East (LoCASE) programme is supported by the European Regional Development Fund to provide a free business support programme in the South and East to help businesses to become more competitive and profitable while protecting the environment and encouraging low carbon solutions.

The South East New Energy project complements the LoCASE project by working with ‘heavy-energy-user’ small to medium sized businesses to implement energy efficiency measures and reduce carbon footprint.

SELEP chief executive Adam Bryan told the Essex climate change committee on Monday (December 6): “SELEP await the levelling up white paper with great interest.

“One of the things that is going to happen is LEPS are going to be hugely affected by that.

“In the past we have had predominantly capital funding to run through LEPs and contribute to projects that are priorities locally.

“That capital funding is moving away from LEPs and going directly to a county basis, through local authorities at district borough city and county levels.

“Which leaves behind a more strategic role for us.

“We will be smaller, potentially with a more strategic focus.

“One of the things we are going to do is bring that convening power to bare – bring the influence and connections we have built up over the past number of years to bare.

“In terms of our engagement with the commission I would very much hope we can bring something really meaningful to those discussions at a strategic basis.”

The levelling up white paper, focusing on industry, skills and transport, had been expected to be published before Christmas but it will now not be ready until 2022.

He added: “Trying to read the tea leaves it is activities that coalesce around a county and in this context are more important than they have ever been.

“And certainly we will right behind what the climate change commission does and make sure that any opportunity we have to channel any funding at our disposal at this really important agenda we will do.”

Piers Meyler

Local Democracy Reporter