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South West firms to get £8m green retrofit boost

Local firms in the South West are to benefit from a new £8 million initiative that aims to kick-start jobs and growth in the region's energy efficiency and microgeneration sector.
The initiative, which is going live today and is called Ready for Retrofit, is a joint venture between national consumer energy charity the Energy Saving Trust (EST) and local partners Regen SW, Devon County Council, Bristol City Council and other local authorities and social housing providers.

It aims to help local South West businesses take advantage of the opportunities presented by green policies such as the Green Deal, Feed-in Tariff, Renewable Heat Incentive and Energy Company Obligation (ECO).

Although the target for the project is to get a minimum of 1000 measures on properties, those behind it have calculated that it could help generate £2.75 billion for the local economy and create more than 2000 green jobs between now and 2020.

Because the project is being part-funded by the European Regional Development Fund, EST project manager Jon Rattenbury, said the business support provided would be targeted at small to medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in the South West and would focus on social housing retrofitting.

But he added: "Elsewhere in the project we are looking at how we can help and support greater take-up in the owner-occupier or private rental sector."

SME business support

In all, £6.5 million of the funding will target the social housing retrofit market, but local SMEs will get support to develop new quality products and services through improved staff development, technical know-how and targeted marketing. The scheme will also help local trades people to improve their energy efficiency knowledge so they can identify energy savings for their customers.

"This is a major breakthrough for the South West giving a huge boost to the local economy, supporting business to help tens of thousands of people reduce their fuel bills and making the region a more sustainable place to live and work," said Ian Hutchcroft, head of South England at the EST.

Investment in skills

Merlin Hyman, chief executive of Regen SW, added: "Investing in making our homes more energy efficient not only cuts bills but creates thousands of new skilled jobs. Ready for Retrofit will be working with the great businesses in the South West to equip them with the skills and knowledge to lead the way in this rapidly developing market."

One local company welcomed the funding, saying retrofitting and energy efficiency represented a "huge market opportunity" for the South West. "We predict this is likely to form in excess of 75 per cent of our business in years to come," Alex Lockton, managing director of Freesource Energy Ltd, said.

Green Deal

The launch of Ready for Retrofit follows the announcement this month by the Government that the framework for the Green Deal, its flagship energy efficiency programme, was now mostly in place subject to Parliamentary approval. The Green Deal aims to insulate 14 million homes across the UK between now and 2020 and create 60,000 jobs in its first three years. It is expected to drive take up of renewable energy technologies by Britain’s households and businesses.

It is the first time EST has partnered on a project such as this and a spokesperson for the charity said if successful the model could be replicated across other regions in the UK.

South West businesses interested in finding out more about the Ready for Retrofit project should contact Regen SW. An event explaining the programme will take place on Wednesday June 27 in Bristol.

Read the full article here.


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