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Net Zero Carbon Research report puts Berkshire in the driving seat of our green future

Thames Valley Berkshire Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) has published the first Berkshire Net Zero Carbon Research Report, sharing the first in a series of priorities that will ensure that Berkshire plays a leading role in the UK’s drive to net zero carbon emissions. This means communities working together to put no more carbon into the atmosphere than it takes out and is key to help secure a sustainable future for the planet. 

The launch of the report was marked by an event at Newbury College’s new Renewables Centre, where the UK’s first 100% electric coach made a stop on its Zero Carbon Tour journey through the UK to COP26 (the 26th United Nations Climate Change conference). The Tour is accelerating the UN-backed Race to Zero as part of the UK's #TogetherForOurPlanet campaign, and provided the ideal opportunity to showcase how Berkshire is leading the global green agenda on a local level.

Sending a video message from Parliament before the launch, Laura Farris MP for Newbury and Vice Chair of the APPG for the Environment said, “I want to congratulate the Thames Valley Berkshire LEP and Planet Mark for this initiative and for all the work that they're doing to help businesses in their endeavors to reach net zero. The truth is that we can't possibly meet the 2050 target without the involvement of businesses.

“Over 400,000 businesses in the UK have now signed up to this commitment including half of the FTSE 100, which includes Vodafone in Newbury. I'm proud of the energy and the commitment that's been shown by so many businesses locally, and of course I'm proud of Newbury College and the Renewable Centre that is supporting the plumbers and the heating engineers of tomorrow to install everything from biomass boilers to air source heat pumps, putting our local workforce at the very heart of the net zero endeavor for the South East.”

Green light for Berkshire to meet climate challenge

Thames Valley Berkshire LEP commissioned sustainability consultancy Bioregional to research and deliver the independent, in-depth report of how Berkshire’s six local authorities are responding to the net zero challenge. The report celebrates the positive steps that have already been taken across the area, which includes extensive green public transport projects and progressive policies for the rollout of Electric Vehicles. However, the review also highlights areas where greater focus is needed to help the area secure its green future.

Tracey Rawling Church, Thames Valley Berkshire LEP Director and co-lead on the LEP’s Net Zero strategy said, “This new report is a pivotal point for Berkshire and ensures that we are ready to meet the challenges of net zero together as a community. Our role in the LEP is to take what this report has told us about where focus is needed and ensure the right people, with the right insight, expertise and skills come together to bring an action plan to life.

“We know that our MPs, local government, local businesses, schools, colleges and residents across the community are passionate about securing a green future and we are here to ensure everyone is supporting to play their part. Reaching net zero will be a huge challenge; there is no silver bullet that will ensure we reach our target. This report signals our commitment to making sure this journey is paved with the information, expertise and achievable plans we need to succeed.”

Net Zero is dependent on people who have the skills to bring green plans to life and progress is already being made in this regard. The launch of this report at Newbury College’s new Renewables Centre, where the LEP has invested £450,000 of the Government’s Getting Building Fund represents one such key project. The centre will expand the delivery of skills for renewable energy systems and engineering, including biomass boilers, air source heat pumps, solar PV and fuel cell systems.

Iain Wolloff, Principal and Chief Executive of Newbury College, said: “We are delighted to host this important event to support the region’s drive to net zero. We are determined that the College will play a leading role in providing the skills needed for ‘green jobs’ and our new Renewables Centre is a fantastic start.”

Working with partners and the Berkshire Local Authorities is essential with Cllr Lynne Doherty, Leader of West Berkshire Council, adding, “We are really pleased that the Zero Carbon Tour visited Newbury to highlight the great work we are all doing. Working in partnership to raise awareness on tackling the climate crisis is vital. Our Council Environmental Strategy has already played a key part in some of the projects across West Berkshire, helping to put us on the pathway towards achieving carbon neutrality.  The more we work together, the better the outcome for us all and I look forward to COP26 where we can highlight our achievements so far.”

Sue Riddlestone, Chief Executive and Co-Founder of Bioregional concludes, “This is a momentous and inspiring day, showcasing brilliant collaboration between six Unitary Authorities and Thames Valley Berkshire LEP. It is these types of projects that we need to help us achieve the transition to net zero.”

The full report is available to download here.

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