North West business briefs: Aberla Group; Peel NRE; Teledata; gunnercooke; LCR hydrogen buses

Svella Connect

Investment and acquisition vehicle Svella has bought two Aberla Group business operations from administrators, safeguarding 19 jobs in Warrington and strengthening its current portfolio companies with the addition of synergistic capabilities and new customers.

Svella has acquired the entire Aberla Energy business which will continue as a standalone trading entity under its Svella Infrastructure division.

Based in Warrington, and with seven employees, Aberla Energy specialises in delivering renewable technologies and integrated energy generation solutions – including solar PV, smart grids and electric vehicle charging infrastructure. Meanwhile Svella has also acquired the rights to, and interest in, fibre network infrastructure business Aberla Utilities, including title in contracts with two new customers.

Operations will merge with portfolio company Svella Connect, a telecoms infrastructure provider, bringing new strategic capability around network survey and design, fuelling opportunities for continued growth in the sector. Twelve employees will transfer to Svella Connect as part of the deal.

Lee Marks, director at Svella, said: “The rising cost of fuel, global focus on decarbonising transport and the expansion of electric vehicle infrastructure across the UK means the acquisition of Aberla Energy is of strategic significance to Svella Plc. Its service proposition is complementary to Svella Connect and allows us to leverage our digital infrastructure expertise to target growth in the fast-developing electric vehicle charging market.”

Jason Elliott, joint administrator and partner at Cowgills, said: “Having suffered extremely difficult times the Aberla board was required to make some difficult decisions. However, with our guidance, their backing and the unwavering interest shown by Svella Plc, we were able to successfully complete these deals, thereby ensuring the continuity of 19 jobs.”


Plans for the Protos site

Peel NRE and Progressive Energy are set to explore new projects at Protos, the strategic energy and resource hub near Ellesmere Port in the heart of the North West region.

The two organisations have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to explore the design and delivery of vital new hydrogen and CO2 infrastructure at Protos, capitalising on its proximity to HyNet. This step comes after Peel NRE, part of Peel L&P, revealed plans to design a local CO2 network at Protos to capture carbon from energy generators and surrounding businesses.

Peel NRE and Progressive Energy will now work jointly on plans for further Protos plots of land, initially looking at delivering, a CO2-receiving terminal capable of accepting deliveries of CO2 by road and/or rail, before exporting to the HyNet carbon transport and storage infrastructure, and hydrogen production through electrolysis.

Jane Gaston, Protos development director at Peel NRE, said: “It’s brilliant to be working together with Progressive Energy as part of the next chapter for Protos. We’re collaborating to explore how critical new infrastructure could produce low carbon hydrogen on the Protos site, as well as facilities to generate electricity to be fed into the grid – helping increase security of our energy supply. Not only that, we’ll also tackle how we can extend the benefits of HyNet’s carbon capture infrastructure by linking it to a local CO2 network at Protos, helping cut carbon dioxide emissions from existing energy generators and surrounding businesses.”

David Parkin, director at Progressive Energy, said: “Protos is on the doorstep of HyNet, at the centre of the North West industrial heartland, and is, therefore, the perfect location for new, low carbon infrastructure. We’ll be working closely with the Peel NRE team to plan and design projects to support the decarbonisation of the region’s industry as we move into a net zero future.”


Matthew Edgley

Manchester data centre operator Teledata has reported a 40% increase in recurring contract revenues over the past 12 months, with 30% of that growth occurring during the first half of 2022. The firm’s colocation revenues have increased by 50% in the 12 months to June 2022.

The announcement comes on the back of a period of significant investment for the Wythenshawe-based firm, which announced last month that it will be opening a second data centre facility in Manchester later this year. This follows expansion at the firm’s existing site, where three new data halls were opened in 2020 and 2021, taking Teledata’s total number of data halls up to five currently.

Matt Edgley, director for Teledata, said: “There is currently a lack of data centre space in Manchester, with capacity in the region nearing critical point. Data centre space is becoming harder to secure so we’re working hard to grow our facility in line with regional demand. As a data centre provider, we have a responsibility to our clients to ensure that continuous capacity is available.”

He added: “It’s been positive to see that, despite the many challenges the past couple of years have brought, our investments into connectivity and capacity are reaping dividends. The investments being made are attracting not only new customers to Teledata, but also additional fibre providers which are investing heavily into the expansion of their own networks to deliver diverse solutions to network intensive clients.”

Founded in 2005 Teledata is an enterprise standard data centre facility offering premium colocation, cloud hosting and data centre services to businesses across the UK.


Michele Price

Manchester-based law firm gunnercooke has successfully registered the first charity set up to meet private prescription costs of medicinal cannabis for children with epilepsy. Intractable Epilepsy, in Preston, has been established by a group of parents and guardians and will raise funds to cover the costs of prescriptions that can amount to a staggering £24,000 a year.

Medicinal cannabis has been shown to provide relief from the severity or frequency of seizures. It is prescribed in accordance with NHS guidelines by a specialist clinician on the GMC register, where no other treatment options are suitable. More than 180,000 people in the UK suffer from Intractable Epilepsy and using medicinal cannabis to reduce the number of seizures, and lessen the chances of seizure-related deaths and SUDEP (Sudden Unexpected Death in Epilepsy).

Michele Price, charity and philanthropy partner at gunnercooke, specialises in helping charities, and all forms of not for profit. She also helps high net worths, entrepreneurs, individuals, families and corporations to become social investors. She said: “This was a sensitive application and beyond the scope of anything I have done previously in terms of meeting the technical questions and requirements of the Charity Commission – gunnercooke worked alongside the Charity Commission’s senior caseworker to get this right, and it was important that we did because the difference that this charity will make to the lives of children with this condition is immeasurable.”

Jo Griffiths, vice chair at Intractable Epilepsy, said: “It has taken over a year of hard work to reach this point. Families like ours are struggling to pay up to £2,000 a month to access this medicine. Now, at last, we will be able to raise funds to help many more cover those costs.”

Graham Levy, chair at Intractable Epilepsy, said: “As long as the patient has a prescription written in accordance with the law and the relevant NICE and GMC guidance we will be able to help them, subject to having charity funds. We hope that this will be a springboard for our fundraising activities so that we can help as many children as possible.”


Seating design

The first images of the interior of the new, zero-emission hydrogen bus fleet coming to the Liverpool City Region have been released. The CGI visuals give a sneak peek at the hi-spec interiors and features which passengers on the new vehicles will be able to experience when they come into service.

Designed especially for the city region, the buses will feature larger and more comfortable seats with unique pattern designs. The interior of the bus will also be decorated with a skyline frieze featuring some of the most iconic landmarks in the Liverpool City Region, including the Liver Building, the Dream in St Helens and Anthony Gormley’s Another Place in Sefton.

The vehicles will also carry a range of special features passengers said that they wanted to see on board – these include wireless and USB phone charging, internet access and reading lights above seats. The buses will also be some of the most accessible in the country, with increased capacity for wheelchair users and passengers with prams or buggies.

Other new features of the hydrogen buses include camera wing mirrors to improve safety, as well as audio and visual announcements for next stops – with high definition onboard screens to update passengers on journey progress in real time. Screens will also display information about onward connections as the vehicles approach train and bus stations, allowing passengers to more easily transfer between different modes of travel – an important part of Mayor Rotheram’s plans for an integrated London-style transport network for the Liverpool City Region.

The 20 hydrogen buses are being built by UK-based bus manufacturer Alexander Dennis Limited, with the first vehicles set to be delivered later in 2022. It is planned that the buses will initially serve the region’s busiest route – the 10A between St Helens and Liverpool city centre, jointly operated by operators Arriva and Stagecoach.

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