The fallout from the Covid-19 pandemic will generate both unprecedented challenges and new opportunities the UK. In relation to the economy and businesses, Derbyshire County Council has identified specific economic impacts on the county, including significant impacts on many of Derbyshire’s key sectors, such as the Visitor Economy, due to lockdowns and social distancing. However, there is an opportunity to underpin the county’s recovery with green solutions, drive innovation and accelerate economic growth. This requires us to establish our priorities to protect and grow Derbyshire's economy and ensure county-wide recovery coordination. It also requires clear and dedicated funding to be made available to businesses to help drive forward the green recovery.
The Green Entrepreneurs Programme comprises three different strands to support businesses and individuals to develop local energy sources and/or low carbon initiatives for communities and businesses, whilst also supporting the manufacture and development of equipment required to provide alternative/low carbon energy and reskilling opportunities. The three strands are: Demonstrator Fund, Small Grant Fund and Scholarship Fund.
The programme, which is being funded through Derbyshire County Council’s COVID recovery fund, has been set up in collaboration with the University of Derby as part of the Council’s COVID economic strategy and climate change commitments.
Projects are to be prioritised and assessed against the following criteria: replicability to other locations to share best practice methods of working; likelihood of success, based on previous delivery (e.g., prototypes, small-scale pilots, independent assessment); value for money of grant invested; impact in terms of tonnes of carbon saved – target of 500 kg of CO2 savings per £1,000 grant.
Priority will be given to proposals that demonstrate game changing propositions in alternative energy, clean fuel and carbon reduction at both a local, regional and national level. To ensure innovation and genuine vision for the future are supported, the parameters of the scheme are designed to encourage solutions beyond the mainstream of current thinking.
The fund will help to lower the carbon impact of businesses, improve profitability and help to ensure the sustainability of businesses, and have wider benefits for the community, environment, place and local economy. Encouragement of innovative solutions will support a minimum of 31 project proposals to provide significant carbon reduction savings and create new jobs within the sector. The scholarship fund will support in excess of 67 individuals to expand their knowledge base through supporting training opportunities in the low carbon economy.
As the programme is currently in the initial implementation phase, lessons learned is part of the ongoing reflection and evaluation process of the Board and delivery partners.
Key to ensuring sustainability of the approach is keeping key partners and communications officers updated on developments within the programme. We are in the first few months of delivery of a three-year programme of activity, to achieve long term sustainability we have implemented a robust partnership approach to developing and delivering activities against the three strands.
As projects achieve their objectives, case studies will be produced to inspire future applications and project development. Value for money and the longevity of projects form part of the evaluation of applications coming forward and this information is used to inform and adapt the programme as required.
As the programme is currently in the initial implementation phase, lessons learned is part of the ongoing reflection and evaluation process of the Board and delivery partners. The Green Entrepreneurs Board includes a range of external partners, including the University of Derby representing skills, and the Federation of Small Business and East Midlands Chamber of Commerce to represent businesses across the county. This ensures we have valid and `real time` information to inform the programme.
As a Local Authority funded programme, we are in a position to respond to and reflect changing local circumstances to meet the needs of the fast changing and newly emerging green skills requirements alongside the existing and emerging Business and Community asks. The pandemic has highlighted the need for Local Authorities to be fast moving and build in the ability to focus delivery to meet changing circumstances. The Green Entrepreneurs Board and delivery arrangements have been designed to have the flexibility to meet ongoing challenges.
The Green Entrepreneurs Programme has not had met with any difficulties in engaging with all levels across the Authority, as during design and implementation senior Leaders and Officers have been involved to ensure the tailored offer is the right one for Derbyshire at this time.
Potential carbon impact.
Longevity of projects.