Scottish and Welsh elections just around the corner
Elections loom! Thursday 6 May sees both the Scottish and Welsh Parliamentary elections take place, plus the local elections postponed from 2020 in England; local and combined authority Mayoral elections; and the election of the Mayor of London and London Assembly. With elections comes pre-election ‘purdah’* so, it is no wonder that governments are in overdrive making a raft of announcements. We’ve encapsulated just some of them in our weekly round-up.
UK Government publishes blueprint for low carbon industrial sector
Last Wednesday saw the UK Government publish an ambitious blueprint to deliver the world’s first low-carbon industrial sector and over £1 billion to cut emissions from industry, schools and hospitals has been announced by the Business and Energy Secretary. Browsing the BEIS website for 17 March will show whole range of announcements diving deeper into the plans. The overall announcement encompassed £171 million from the Industrial Decarbonisation Challenge allocated to nine green tech projects, about which those who attended the All-Energy/Dcarbonise UKRI-sponsored webinar ‘Decarbonising the UK’s Industry: A Path to Net Zero’ the next day heard more, including about the news just breaking, that BP was working to develop the UK’s largest blue hydrogen production facility (in Teesside) targeting 1GW of hydrogen production (20% of the UK’s H2 target) by 2030. The BEIS announcement also covered the £932 million to 429 projects across England aimed at reducing CO2 emissions from public buildings including hospitals, schools and council buildings.
As Kwasi Kwarteng said: “Ahead of COP26, the UK is showing the world how we can cut emissions, create jobs and unleash private investment and economic growth. Today’s strategy builds on this winning formula as we transition low carbon and renewable energy sources, while supporting the competitiveness of Britain’s industrial base.”
UK & Scottish Governments Islands Growth Deal
Mid-week there was good news too for the Scottish island groups – Orkney, Shetland and the Outer Hebrides – as representatives of the UK and Scottish governments joined the Leaders of Comhairle nan Eilean Siar, Orkney Islands Council, and Shetland Island Council to sign the Heads of Terms for the Islands Growth Deal. The Deal will capitalise on the Islands’ unique assets with an investment of £50 million each from the Scottish and UK Governments (announced on Wednesday) and an anticipated £235 million from project partners. The 10-year programme of investment has the ambitious target of creating up to 1,300 jobs and tackling the depopulation concerns facing many parts of the three island archipelagos. EMEC is a key delivery partner for the Islands Growth Deal, and will lead the development of the Islands Centre for New Zero business case.
BEIS announces £54 million for innovative green projects
Today has a BEIS announcement of over £54 million destined for innovative green projects creating the next generation of electric trucks and hydrogen-powered buses are set to secure nearly 10,000 UK jobs and save millions of tonnes of carbon emissions. Something of a ‘top up’ to the story about a new £3bn transport strategy in The Guardian last Monday which wrote that: “The government is promising to deliver 4,000 new British-built electric or hydrogen buses, transition cities and regions across England to emission-free buses and safeguard the UK bus manufacturing industry.”
New funding for green distilleries
From transport to whisky and spirits (but not to be taken at the same time). reNEWS reports that: “Having already received collective funding of more than £1m to kick-start green innovation projects, 12 distilleries across Scotland and five in England will be able to bid for further grants up to £3m. The grants will support successful distilleries to accelerate projects that decarbonise production processes.” The funding for the Green Distilleries competition is part of the £1bn Net Zero Innovation Portfolio Guidance notes were published on Saturday. Both UK Energy Minister Anne-Marie Trevelyan and UK Government Minister for Scotland Iain Stewart are fully supportive of this investment
And that’s not all! This week could see even more announcements…
Something to watch out for this week is the launch of the Scottish Just Transition Commission’s final report. There’s a webinar tomorrow (Tuesday) at which you can find out about key themes of the report, its recommendations, next steps and, of course, question Commissioners.
*Pre-election purdah is the period in the UK between the announcement of an election and the formation of the new elected government. It affects civil servants, who must be politically impartial, preventing central and local government from making announcements about any new or controversial government initiatives that could be seen to be advantageous to any candidates or parties in the forthcoming election.