East Anglia: New Anglia LEP lands ‘green pathfinder’ low carbon role

EAST Anglia’s burgeoning energy sector is to play a key national role in the UK’s shift towards a low carbon economy.

The New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) has been chosen by the Government as the country’s “Green Pathfinder LEP”, to play the lead role within the national network of LEPs in the onward development of the low carbon sector.

Andy Wood, chair of the New Anglia LEP board, confirmed the move yesterday at the partnership’s Open For Business conference, held at The Apex in Bury St Edmunds and attended by around 250 people.

“Over the next few weeks we will be working with the Government to identify how this exciting project can be taken forward and the resources required,” he added.

Dr Wood told delegates that, together with tourism, energy was one of the key priorities for the New Anglia board.

Among early successes for New Anglia was last month’s approval by the Government of the partnership’s bid for an Enterprise Zone in Great Yarmouth and Lowestoft, focused on the energy sector, while the LEP also welcomed the recent launch of Visit East Anglia, a private sector-led initiative to take on the promotion of Suffolk and Norfolk’s tourism industries, added Dr Wood.

Chris Starkie, joint lead of the New Anglia LEP transition team, said the Enterprise Zone involved six development-ready sites where new and expanding businesses would benefit from a simplified planning regime, support for the roll-out of superfast broadband and, for small firms, relief on business rates.

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The Government had required each Enterprise Zone to be focused on a specific sector and the New Anglia bid had been put together by the Norfolk and Suffolk Energy Alliance, consisting of local authorities, the East of England Energy Group and the Suffolk and Norfolk chambers of commerce, with the LEP playing a co-ordinating role, he added.

The conference also included a presentation on the opportunities for companies in the region represented by EDF Energy’s plans for a new nuclear power station at Sizewell.

Tom McGarry, senior communications manager for the company’s Sizewell C project, pledged that EDF would work to maximise supply chain opportunities for local firms.

Keith Brown, chief executive of Visit East Anglia, said that with Government funding for tourism continuing to fall, and with local authorities also under pressure, the tourism sector would need “to do more for less” in terms of promotion and marketing.

Visit East Anglia had been created and funded by commercial businesses within the sector and there would be an opportunity for other businesses to take advantage of a “join once” membership programme, giving them access to best practice and economies of scale.

The conference also included a presentation by Jerome Mayhew, managing director of East Anglia-based hire-wire activity chain Go Ape!, who explained the company’s rapid growth since its formation in 2002.

And Alistair Lang, chief executive of law firm Birketts, and Chris Maw, senior partner at accountants PricewaterhouseCooper, the main sponsors of the event, conducted a discussion on broader issues surrounding growth.