A newly-formed alliance of business leaders, local politicians and academics have mounted a bid to create the UK’s first zero-carbon industrial cluster between Manchester, Liverpool and Chester.

The North West Cluster is vying for a share of £170 million of match funding promised by energy and clean growth minister Claire Perry in December to support the development of a low-carbon and then zero-carbon industrial hub by 2030 and 2040 respectively.

The group says the project will combine wind, solar, tidal and small modular nuclear generation within a smart grid and establish a new “hydrogen economy” in the region enabled by carbon capture and storage (CCS).

It says the scheme could cut carbon emissions by tens of millions of tonnes each year, create at least 33,000 new jobs and unlock £500 million investment pledged by its backers.

The cluster will bring together a number of smaller initiatives, including Cadent’s HyNet project to build the first large-scale hydrogen network in the UK. Other supporters include National Grid, SP Energy Networks, Electricity North West, Orsted, Siemens and ABB.

The consortium is being headed up the North West Business Leadership Team. Richard Carter, the chairman of the organisation and UK managing director for chemical company BASF, said:

“This collaboration represents one of the most vibrant clusters in the UK with a wide range of energy intensive industry partners.

“We are already home to a number of existing complementary initiatives that, when brought together, represent a game-changing opportunity. We believe, with appropriate government support, that this will result in the North West meeting the challenge of becoming the UK’s first low-carbon industrial cluster by 2030.”

Steve Rotheram, mayor of the Liverpool City Region, said: “We are rightly planning for the long term and a zero-carbon future, and we are taking urgent action now.  In the Liverpool City Region our low carbon sector is already worth £2 billion a year to our economy, while employing 22,000 people and we stand ready to play a key role in creating the UK’s first low-carbon cluster.”

The mayor of Greater Manchester, Andy Burnham, added:

“Doing things differently doesn’t just mean a new set of policies – it means a new approach altogether. I want Greater Manchester to be the best place in the world to grow up, get on and grow old: clean, green and vibrant.

“Cities, and city-regions, will make the difference on climate change and, in working to decarbonise in the North West, we can create a blueprint for every other city in the world. It wouldn’t be the first time. We can change ourselves, and we can inspire change in others.”

*Above map indicates location of the cluster

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