Energy Secretary visits West Midlands to see nationally leading work to decarbonise homes and businesses
8th March 2024
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Andy Street, Mayor of the West Midlands and chair of the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA), took Energy Secretary Claire Coutinho MP on a tour of the region yesterday, Thursday, 7 March, to show how it is becoming a national leader in decarbonising homes, communities and businesses.

They visited Brockmoor in Dudley where the WMCA has already invested £1.6 million in the first Net Zero Neighbourhood to demonstrate how retrofitting entire neighbourhoods and making other community-wide improvements to the environment alongside transport infrastructure will be key to the transition to net zero.

Thanks to further funding secured by the WMCA from the government’s Net Zero Accelerator programme, early-stage planning will now begin on Net Zero Neighbourhoods in Birmingham, Coventry, Sandwell, Solihull, Walsall and Wolverhampton.

As part of government’s Net Zero Accelerator programme, the WMCA’s is developing a funding model that aims to also bring in more private sector funding to help drive forward the Net Zero Neighbourhood concept and other place-based net zero solutions across the West Midlands and then replicate them across the rest of the UK.

The Mayor said: “There is significant work already underway here in the West Midlands to decarbonise our homes and businesses and that’s why our region is emerging as a national leader in the UK’s transition to net zero.

“The Secretary of State’s visit gave us the opportunity to showcase that expertise and depth of commitment as well as the practical impacts that government funding is having on the ground. This additional £6.2 million will enable us to build on our pioneering Net Zero Neighbourhood programme and roll it out across the region and hopefully the country.

“We can only achieve net zero by all parties, both public and private, working together. Projects like the Net Zero Neighbourhoods clearly show the significant commercial opportunities that can be had by decarbonising our existing housing stock and that is a powerful tool in attracting private sector companies to join us in the fight against fuel poverty and climate change.”

Energy Security Secretary Claire Coutinho said: “It was fab to see the work going on in Dudley and across the West Midlands to develop Net Zero Neighbourhoods.

“We are backing these efforts with government cash which will help whole neighbourhoods to decarbonise their homes and businesses.

“Andy Street has been a great champion of this initiative and together we will not only reduce emissions but cut people’s bills.”

The Mayor also took the Energy Secretary to Plastic Coatings in Kingswinford – one of hundreds of local businesses who have already signed up for a free energy audit through the WMCA’s government-funded Business Energy Advice Service (BEAS) pilot.

The scheme is also offering access to up to £100,000 of match funding towards the cost of all or some of the recommended measures. This could include supporting investment in new machinery and equipment, improved manufacturing processes or LED lighting and insulation.

Cllr John Cotton, WMCA portfolio lead for environment and energy, and leader of Birmingham City Council, said: “Decarbonising homes and businesses at scale is at the heart at the region’s drive to be net zero.

“All of our local authorities are playing their part with a pipeline of projects that are utilising our expertise and private sector partnerships to deliver our collective commitment of a creating a more sustainable West Midlands, for current and future generations. Not only is this the right thing to do for the environment, it will also bring skilled, well-paid jobs to our region.”

Cllr Rob Clinton, Dudley Council’s cabinet member for climate change, said: “Our Net Zero Neighbourhood is a really exciting and innovative project which shows our ambition to lead the way when it comes to tackling climate change. This is a focussed area where a number of initiatives are being explored with a view to rolling out at scale in the future if they are successful.”

BEAS is being delivered by the WMCA and DESNZ through Business Growth West Midlands in partnership with The High Value Manufacturing Catapult, Aston University, Warwick Manufacturing Group, Warwickshire County Council, Staffordshire County Council and Worcestershire County Council.

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