An initiative designed to cut energy costs for industrial businesses across the North West – which could put the Golden Triangle of Cheshire, Liverpool and Manchester on the global map for property investment – has been unveiled.
It is hoped that the emerging scheme – dubbed the Energy Innovation District – will put Cheshire at the forefront of securing investment from the energy-intensive industry and disruptive technology companies relocating to the UK.
The region’s play to become a hub for energy generation and consumption was the subject of an Energy Breakfast at MIPIM, sponsored by Peel Environmental. The event brought the company together with the Cheshire and Warrington Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP), GVA and Addleshaw Goddard to discuss the future opportunities for the North West.
Myles Kitcher, managing director at Peel Environmental, said: “The Energy Innovation District will break down the barriers between how indigenous energy is generated, distributed and consumed in the North West – a big part of that is attracting new businesses to the region.
“The target is to reduce energy costs by 20 per cent for businesses in the district by investing in smarter distribution networks direct from the energy source.
“There’s no doubt this will have significant impact on Cheshire’s ability to drive energy-intensive businesses to the North’s own Golden Triangle of Cheshire, Liverpool and Manchester. We’re making that a reality at our Protos development site, which sits at the heart of the district and is a real focal point.”
Panellists tackled the need for the region to sell its successes and assets to global investors, touching on land values, access to two international airports and close links to academia and skilled workforces as regional pulls.
Andrew Pexton, director at GVA, said: “We’re seeing an unprecedented demand for large industrial sites from occupiers with large power requirements. They want resilience and security from their energy supply, and incentives such as the Innovation District will be a real pull for them to locate to Cheshire.
“We’re talking about interest in sectors such as paper production and high-tech manufacturing, where energy availability is a core consideration. Combine this with land availability, existing skillsets and global connectivity and the area quickly becomes a no-brainer for investors looking for a UK base.”
John Adlen, growth director for Cheshire and Warrington LEP, added: “Energy is central to our offer and we are lucky to have a collection of impassioned organisations that are driving an exemplar project such as the Energy Innovation District.
“The time is now to get behind forward-thinking initiatives that make international investors turn north when they arrive in the UK. Better still, they will come straight to the Cheshire Science Corridor because they know just what we are capable of and the competitive advantage it provides their business.”
Michael O’Connor, partner and national head of infrastructure, projects and energy at Addleshaw Goddard, believes investors are “seeing the better value investments that can be provided by looking to the regions”.
“With the freedom afforded to local authorities through devolution, those who live and breathe the local areas are empowered to make strategic development decisions,” he said. “Nowhere is this more evident than in the North of England, and Cheshire is a great example, because it’s already a hive of science, industry and tech activity.”