West Yorks’ Mayor Brabin announces major net zero partnership

West Yorkshire is set to become “greener, quicker” through a groundbreaking new partnership between the public and the private sector, mayor Tracy Brabin told conference delegates in Leeds yesterday.

The West Yorkshire Strategic Climate & Environment Partnership was announced at the international investor conference, UKREiiF, held in the city. It will see the re-elected West Yorkshire mayor team up with four major private sector firms to accelerate delivery of the region’s net zero plans.

Under the plans, the companies will work alongside the mayor on targeted activity to deliver green skills, decarbonise homes and businesses, and put the region on the path to net zero carbon by 2038.

In return, the firms will benefit from the mayor and combined authority’s influence and leadership on climate and the environment, giving them the confidence – it is claimed – to invest in West Yorkshire at scale.

Brabin said: “During my first term, I was proud to invest over £200m in green projects. Working with partners, we insulated social homes, match-funded businesses to green their processes, put electric buses on our roads, and provided direct grants to communities to lower their carbon footprint.

“But we will not deliver net zero without bringing the private sector with us. This groundbreaking new partnership will help us become greener, quicker and deliver net zero at scale and at speed, cutting energy bills in a cost of living crisis, and building a brighter region for future generations.”

The four firms which make up the new climate partnership with the mayor are:

  • Centrica, the owner of British Gas and energy supplier to over 10 million homes and businesses
  • Daikin, the multinational heating and cooling manufacturer
  • SSE, the clean energy company
  • Sustainable Building Services, one of the UK’s largest retrofitters of homes.

Strong collaboration

Dan Rosenfield, managing director of Centrica Net Zero, said: “Helping people live smarter, greener lives requires strong collaboration and partnerships. We’re delighted to work with West Yorkshire Combined Authority to support their net zero journey.

“Our purpose is to energise a greener, fairer future. We will work collaboratively with WYCA and other partners to help make net zero simple and affordable, utilising our Hive smart energy system and in-house expertise.”

Hiro Ishikawa, managing director of Daikin UK, said: “Daikin is delighted to be a strategic partner of the West Yorkshire Strategic Climate & Environment Partnership.

“Switching to sustainable energy is critical to meeting net zero targets, and our heat pump solutions will help make homes greener, warmer, and more energy-efficient. This exciting new partnership means we will work together to support the region in its vital decarbonisation goals.

“We look forward to working closely with communities and wider stakeholders to develop and upskill the West Yorkshire region, and support the low-carbon transition.”

Neil Kirkby, managing director of enterprise at SSE Energy Solutions, said: “Our agreement to work closely with the West Yorkshire Combined Authority (WYCA) is further evidence of SSE’s commitment to engaging with local communities to ensure a fair transition to a sustainable future. Our expertise in decarbonisation and renewable energy together with the WYCA’s ambition to play its part in tackling climate change has enormous potential to drive change and this collaboration is one that can be replicated with regions throughout the UK and Ireland.

“At SSE we are investing in the communities where we operate, driving local economic growth, and working to unlock the potential of low-carbon technologies. If we can foster the development of a skilled green workforce, we will build a cleaner, greener future for generations to come.”

Derek Horrocks, owner of Sustainable Building Services (UK) Ltd, said: “We are absolutely delighted to have been selected by The West Yorkshire Strategic Climate and Environment Partnership as one of the four major private firms to come together with them to form this ground breaking Public/Private strategic partnership to create large scale green communities with a central ethos of ‘greener quicker for future generations’ across West Yorkshire.

“We look forward to bringing our expertise to this collaboration in delivering building decarbonisation at scale and speed, alongside our wider group offering of blending private/public sector funding and vision to offer every household a financially viable solution to decarbonise their homes, alongside our extremely innovative fintech and proptech offerings to support the funding of solutions for all and to provide the ability to monitor and evaluate closely the outcomes of the decarbonisation interventions we install.”

Turbocharge

To turbocharge the road to net zero, the combined authority will also set out to deepen its relationship with the Green Finance Institute, Leeds Building Society, and the Energy Saving Trust.

The three organisations will advise and support the mayor to deliver on her most recent election pledges. Brabin has promised to put in place a programme to retrofit every social home in West Yorkshire, and to set-up a retrofit ‘one-stop-shop’ to help every household reduce their energy bills.

Leeds Building Society’s senior strategy manager, Nicola Glover, will be working closely with the mayor over the next three months to explore the financial options for West Yorkshire residents to deliver retrofit work that improves the energy efficiency of their homes and reduces their energy bills.

Andrew Greenwood, deputy chief executive at Leeds Building Society, said: “We are proud to contribute Nicola’s time and expertise to simplify the finance options for greener home improvements within our heartland. We recently conducted some research which shows that 8% people don’t know where to start when considering making green improvements to their home. We hope this partnership will help to simplify the process for those considering starting any retrofit work on their home.

“Leeds Building Society is committed to an orderly transition to net zero. We were the first lender to reward buyers opting for greener homes by factoring in lower energy bill commitments into our lending decisions. Through this partnership, we hope to be able to help more people to improve the energy efficiency of their homes.”

Emma Harvey-Smith, chief of staff at the Green Finance Institute, said: “Local and Combined Authorities have a deep understanding of their residents’ needs and are increasingly acknowledging the potential of partnering with the private finance sector to ensure fair access to finance for their communities.

“We are thrilled to engage in the collaboration with WYCA and Leeds Building Society to support the Better Homes Hub programme. Together, we will delve into catalytic financial models which can offer the opportunity to empower a diverse range of consumers when it comes to retrofitting their homes. This initiative stands as an exemplar of effective public-private partnerships in action.”

Main image: Tracy Brabin, West Yorkshire Mayor, with Neil Kirkby, managing director at SSE


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