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Radical action needed to sustain essential North West resources

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The North West Business Leadership Team (NWBLT) has today released its latest report identifying the state of the region’s essential resources, and the action required to optimise the future supplies of food, water and energy by 2040.

The report identified these three essential resources as not only offering the key to future security but the key for future growth and investment opportunities. Fundamental questions about the reliability of energy supply, the sufficiency of food production and the availability of a resilient water supply have reached a critical point, according to the grouping of regional business leaders - and compelling reasons for investment have been outlined.

The report ‘Optimising Our Essential Resources - Creating Business Advantage by 2040’ will be launched on June 9th as part of the International Business Festival (IFB), to be held at the IFB Hub in Liverpool.  The report will be launched with North West Energy Squared (NWE2), who will be opening a physical computer controlled model of the North West showing the available power sources and projected new ones using tidal energy and other renewable sources.

Jake Berry MP, a Member of the Prime Minister’s Policy Unit and North West spokesperson on housing, local government and regional growth will offer a formal response on behalf of Government.

The landscape for energy security requires the region to be able to access an energy efficient network and energy efficiency expertise, to economically manage supply and demand. This will be achieved through the latest energy efficient technologies, exploitation of waste energy and creation of the necessary communities for concepts such as district heating, demand side response and energy storage.

Businesses based in the North West will be able to access the full spectrum of energy generation technologies delivering a reliable and affordable energy mix through existing strengths in gas, nuclear and wind but also through further globally leading energy technologies such as biomass and tidal power. The development of an energy coast is highlighted as an urgent investment for the region, if it is to meet rising energy demand.

The report also highlights the need for greater energy efficiency measures to better balance supply and demand of electricity. A number of global manufacturers in the region have adopted energy efficiency programmes and there are pockets of energy efficiency programmes in our cities, but there is much more to be done. The NWBLT believe that energy efficiency measures can be the key source of competitive advantage for the region. 

Food production will also have to radically transform in the coming decades to meet rising demand, with primary and secondary food producers in the North West needing to collaborate better on their own research and development programmes within a cluster of world class food research institutions in the region. This will be needed to develop new approaches to resource efficient livestock production and food manufacturing, and the incubation of new technology and skills for world-wide export.

Critically the NWBLT calls for the region to create a High Value Manufacturing Catapult for the Food and Beverage sector to foster collaboration between research institutions and facilitate links with industry. This is in addition to recent calls to locate the proposed Alan Turing Institute in the region. 

Water supply has been identified as a key strength for the region too. Businesses based in the North West will be able to access a reliable and climate resilient water supply, helping water intensive businesses to benefit from measures to help the region’s resilience to flooding.

The region is also identified as being a leading centre for water-efficient commercial and industrial use and the report recommends that this should be capitalised upon still further.

Juergen Maier, NWBLT Chair and MD of Siemens Industry UK, said: “What we need is a united regional and national strategy for developing essential resources so we can build the green economy of the future. I firmly believe that it is only through a holistic and national commitment that these very serious challenges will be addressed. The rewards for determining clear, coherent policies and delivering the business investment will be considerable – whilst failure to act could be disastrous for all concerned.

“But let’s be clear - this report identifies huge growth potential in food, water and energy resources. I see the region being at the cutting edge of sustainable energy production - we have immense potential when it comes to nuclear, tidal and off shore wind developments. And with more investment in R&D our food and beverage sector could flourish even more.”

The North West Business Leadership Team also argues that the region should develop shale gas, accessing local resources through the responsible utilisation of the North West‘s shale gas reserves, reducing the UK’s and the region’s reliance on imported gas. 

The three resources identified also overlap with one another and create a number of opportunities, such as the extraction of energy from food waste, municipal waste and wastewater in the region. 

Chris Matthews, Head of Sustainability at United Utilities, commented “In recognising that the essential resources of water, food and energy are intrinsically linked, this natural resource base in the North West provides our businesses with opportunities to prosper and deliver social and environmental benefits. We need to ensure that the region’s businesses capitalise on this through collaboration across different sectors and by harnessing the potential of future technologies.”

The NWBLT surveyed and collaborated with group members and other organisations in the North West in compiling this report, including Wheatsheaf Group, United Utilities, Siemens, Dewhurst Torevell, Arup and Peel Group.

Source: www.nwblt.com

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