New collaboration hoping to mobilise £500m of investment in low carbon heavy industry over the coming decades.

A group of Mayors, business leaders, and universities from the north west of England have announced the formation of a new group designed to mobilise £500m of investment in support of the government’s plans to create a low carbon industrial cluster in the UK.

The group is being led by Richard Carter, chairman of the North West Business Leadership Team (NWBLT) and managing director of BASF for the UK, and has the backing of Liverpool Mayor Steve Rotheram and Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham.

The group is hoping to secure the designation as the UK’s first Low Carbon Industrial Cluster, which the government last year announced it wants to have in place by 2030. The initial cluster would then be accompanied by a net zero cluster by 2040.

Announcing the move at the COP24 Summit late last year, Energy and Clean Growth Minister Claire Perry revealed up to £170m of funding would be available to support the development of a cluster capable of fully decarbonising heavy industry.

The NWBLT has now thrown its hat into the ring to become one of the clusters, although other regions are likely to present their own plans.

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

Christine Gaskell CBE, chairman of the Cheshire and Warrington Local Enterprise Partnership, said the region had compelling low carbon strengths on which to build.

“There is no better place to be leading the clean-growth agenda than the North West – harnessing our world-class innovation track record, academic expertise and the energy-intensive industry that’s located here – through working together we can co-create the UK’s first low carbon, and in time zero carbon, industrial cluster further cementing our international reputation and bringing new jobs and capital investment to the region,” she said.

Her comments were echoed by Mayor of Liverpool, Steve Rotheram, who said the low carbon sector in the Liverpool City Region is already worth £2bn a year to the economy, while employing 22,000 people. “We stand ready to play a key role in creating the UK’s first low carbon cluster,” he added.

His counterpart in Manchester, Andy Burnham, said the creation of a low carbon industrial cluster would fit into a wider green push from the region, which will be further accelerated later this month.

“At our Green Summit later this month we will publish an ambitious new plan which will make a significant impact on this city-region in the short term,” he said. “We will transform our buildings, revolutionise the way we travel and restore our natural environment.”

He added that the work underway across the north west of England could have an international impact. “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,” he said, referencing the region’s industrial heritage. “It wouldn’t be the first time. We can change ourselves, and we can inspire change in others.”

However, the plans to create a new low carbon and then net zero industrial hub in the UK remain at an early stage following their unveiling last year.

As such, it remains to be seen how much competition the North West faces to secure the designation, how much funding will ultimately be available, and whether the government will eventually look to develop more than one cluster.

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