Northern business and industry leaders in plea to government on net zero transition

Business and industry leaders across the North have contacted the Government with plans to lead the net zero transition for the UK, claiming it could lead to £6bn-worth of additional value for the region by investing in leadership and collaboration.

NP11, which represents the 11 LEPs across the North, and bosses’ organisation the CBI, has written an open letter to the Government following the recent publication of its Energy Strategy.

The missive invites the Prime Minister, Chancellor and Secretary of State for Energy Security and Net Zero to meet and discuss how the North can play a leading role to boost economic growth, levelling up and international trade and investment.

The North already generates 50% of England’s renewable energy and is decarbonising at a rate 13% faster than the country as a whole.

The business leaders signing the open letter, including the likes of Siemens, Peel, Manchester Airport and Drax, are ambitious to go even further, arguing that the North can help the UK take advantage of the huge economic opportunity the global transition to net zero represents, as underlined by the recent review by MP Chris Skidmore.

Their letter outlines the potential for the North’s clean growth industries to drive transformational economic growth, increased international trade and investment and enhanced energy security, while also levelling up the North’s economy and meeting carbon reduction targets.

The letter says: “The signatories of this letter believe that our country is at a critical juncture.

“Just as the North led national growth in the first Industrial Revolution, and transformed the future of the country, we can and will lead the transition towards low carbon energy, generating a surplus of secure clean energy and reaping economic rewards.

“We have the skills, the desire, and the drive to take this once in a generation opportunity. We are ambitious to capitalise on the huge international demand for the technologies northern business are developing.

“We would like to invite you to meet with us and other Northern business leaders to discuss how the North can play a leading role in unlocking the full economic potential of net zero to address the challenges the country currently faces.”

Carl Ennis, CEO for Great Britain and Ireland at Siemens, said: “I’m proud to sign this letter alongside other business leaders who are playing a central role in the UK’s net zero transition.

“It’s no coincidence that the North is at the forefront of this transition. As a result of the North’s strong industrial heritage, the region has the skills, the infrastructure, the innovation capacity and strong public and private sector partnerships to respond to the transformation to a low carbon economy.

“As business leaders, we want to seize the economic opportunity set out in the Government’s Skidmore review. With countries such as the USA and China focusing significant investment on net zero innovation, we want to ensure the UK maintains its position of global leadership on this critical agenda and look forward to meeting with ministers to discuss how we can build on the work already under way.”

Clare Hayward, chair of Cheshire and Warrington LEP, said: “The NP11, along with our public and private sector partners in the North, has been making the case that the North can be the driving force for the UK’s net zero transition.

“With the Government’s new Energy Strategy following hot on the heels of Chris Skidmore’s Net Zero Review, there’s never been a better time for Northern business leaders to get around the table with government and discuss how we can grab these once-in-a-generation opportunities for the benefit, not just of the North but the whole country.”

And James Newman, chair of Hull and East Yorkshire LEP, said: “Thanks to our strong industrial legacy and significant private investment, the North offers the country an unbeatable opportunity to make sure the UK delivers on its climate obligations while unlocking unprecedented growth.

“The North is already pioneering industry-leading work in areas such as carbon capture and storage (CCS), hydrogen, nuclear, offshore wind, tidal power and low carbon ‘jet zero’ aviation fuels.

“There is ambition to go even further, and a fantastic business case to harness the ground-breaking work already under way to deliver tangible levelling up. The North offers the Government a ready made solution to ensure the UK can grab a significant share of the economic growth that’s on the table with 90% of the world’s GDP now committed to net zero.”

The NP11’s ‘Net Zero North: Collaboration Powering Global Britain’ report sets out the practical steps needed to realise the benefits of the collaboration and how those steps can deliver economic growth, decarbonise faster and enhance security energy and establish the North as a global net-zero innovation hub.