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£19m Local Net Zero Accelerator Programme to be delivered by GSENZH


£19m Local Net Zero Accelerator Programme to be delivered by GSENZH

The Department for Energy Security & Net Zero (DESNZ) has launched a groundbreaking Local Net Zero Accelerator Programme, a £19.4 million initiative to advance scalable net zero finance programs in key regions.

The Greater South East Net Zero Hub (GSENZH), acting as an independent Hub, has been entrusted with the responsibility of managing and awarding grants to Manchester Combined Authority, West Midlands Combined Authority, and York and North Yorkshire Combined Authority.

Mayor Dr Nik Johnson, said, “This funding marks a significant step towards a sustainable future. While the programme may not directly impact the geographical region of the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority, it underscores the government’s confidence in the strength and capability of the Combined Authority and the GSENZH to successfully manage and deliver transformative schemes of this nature.”

The three selected places, Manchester, West Midlands, and York, will receive up to £7 million each, with an additional £2 million allocated for York to replicate the Bristol City LEAP model.

The two Local Net Zero Accelerator pilots in the Greater Manchester Combined Authority and the West Midlands Combined Authority will help drive investment in multiple green projects across key sectors such as energy, housing and transport – essential to delivering on the UK’s climate targets.

The combined authorities will decide how to allocate funding, selecting projects that will benefit their communities. These could include housing retrofit and renewable energy and transport projects, such as installing solar panels, battery storage and deploying green buses – all of which could help significantly cut emissions.

Councils have previously faced barriers to attracting private sector investment in smaller net zero programmes and one-off projects. This funding is designed to tackle this issue, so they can secure investment at scale to deliver a range of green initiatives and expand decarbonisation work in the years to come.

A third, separate pilot will be launched in the York and North Yorkshire Combined Authority, with the aim of replicating a similar, successful model in Bristol, which supported around 1,000 jobs. Bristol City Leap established an innovative public-private partnership between Bristol City Council, Ameresco Ltd and Vattenfall Heat UK, which helped secure millions of pounds worth of investment into Bristol’s energy system, including solar, wind, heat networks, heat pumps and energy efficiency measures across the council’s estate.

The three new schemes will be supported by a centralised finance service, managed by the GSENZH. Supported by around £3 million, this will give the pilots access to financial and commercial knowledge to attract private investment in the local programmes.

Mayor Dr Nik Johnson said “We welcome the Department for Energy Security & Net Zero’s decision to entrust the Combined Authority and Greater South East Net Zero Hub with the management and delivery of this programme. This strategic move not only reflects the positive reputation and strength of the Combined Authority, but also highlights our commitment to leading transformative initiatives. The Combined Authority has consistently showcased its ability to navigate and successfully manage complex programs. This collaboration signifies a vote of confidence in our capabilities, illustrating that the Combined Authority is well-equipped to attract private investment and drive sustainable, green development in our communities.”

“The Local Net Zero Accelerator Programme is not only a substantial investment from the government but has the potential to be a game-changer in scalable finance for Net Zero. It aims to provide a national finance service for local authorities, fostering positive impacts on the environment and climate change. This learning will be crucial in informing a national model for local authorities across the country, bringing private sector finance into local net zero place-based projects and has the opportunity to bring wide-reaching benefits to our region.”

The GSENZH, having successfully delivered the Net Zero Investment Design and Scoping project, anticipates that the lessons learned from this program will significantly enhance its capabilities, benefiting the public sector in the Greater South East region.