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Energy and environmental businesses connected at inaugural event

Over two hundred people attended the first ever Energy and Environment North East event on Wednesday 23 March, which has been hailed a success by leading industry figures.

The free one day event was designed to enable North East SME’s active in the energy and environmental sectors to demonstrate their expertise and experience to local and national buyers.

John Barton, former Director of RENEW who hosted the event, said the day had been a great success: "As a first attempt to bring businesses working in the energy and environmental sectors together the event worked on many levels. It was especially good to see just how much interest in the sector has grown and the event was an opportunity to bring businesses and like-minded people together to talk about what opportunities are available in the region and how best to approach them.

"The real challenge we face is how to build on the success of this event next year in the face of the changing regional landscape. This region’s future prosperity is dependant upon seizing the opportunities presented by this Low Carbon transition and to do this we must ensure that the sector works together and has a voice," John concluded.

The event was held at the Xcel Centre in Newton Aycliffe, County Durham and featured an extensive programme of speakers and workshops with over 30 local companies exhibiting.

John Barton spoke at the inaugural event about the current regional landscape, highlighting the importance of bodies such as the North East Sustainable Resources Board (NESRB) and the Energy and Environmental Industries Forum (EEIF) in helping the sector engage and grow collaboratively. He also spoke about the future regional landscape which was changing following the demise of both the Government Office and ONE North East as well as Renew’s legacy which was being taken forward by RenewPlus lead by Chris Hayward, its new Managing Director.

Graham Hillier’, Director of Strategy and Futures at CPI, spoke about the importance of resources and the positioning of opportunities, noting that targets set by the government are particularly challenging. He also noted that such challenges will require a change in the way we use resources and encouraged people to explore the concept of resource efficiency from initial concept creation.

Carl Nichols, Head of Contract Management, at Waste & Resources Action Programme (WRAP), also spoke on Wednesday about what the future looks like nationally for green industries, taking into account UK and international commitments, WRAPs resource efficiency programmes and how North East SME’s can access the support and resources that are available to them.

Carl said: "At WRAP we welcome the opportunity to attend industry events such as Energy and Environment North East, to talk about how we can help SME’s become resource efficient and how they fit into the national agenda. We work with businesses and individuals up and down the country to help them reap the benefits of reducing waste, develop sustainable products and use resources in an efficient way. If we look at businesses accessing our support across the country it is disproportionate in the North East so I was keen to inform those attending the event about all of our services and how our services can benefit their business."

Finally, Damian McGann, Head of Business Development, Santander in the UK, spoke about the bank’s global and UK projects, with a focus on funding structures. He said: "The renewable energy sector has become a key focus for us at Santander over the past 12 months, we can see there are clear opportunities for growth in the sector. We have a specialist team who can work in partnership with companies and venture capitalists in the North East to maximise these opportunities."

The afternoon session included a host of workshops for delegates to attend, spanning a wide range of energy and environmental topics such as micro-renewables, construction resource efficiency, recycling opportunities and Combined Heat and Power (CHP) and district heating.

RENEW facilitates and delivers commercial energy and environmental technology projects across North East England and is committed to ensuring the region is at the forefront of the UK’s low carbon and sustainable energy drive.

Working with businesses, communities, investors, regulators and technology suppliers RENEW helps low carbon energy and environmental technology projects make the transition from development to the marketplace. Additionally, it provides strategic support to a diverse range of businesses looking to maximise the economic opportunities and carbon reductions from the application of these projects.

For further information about RENEW or the event please visit www.renew-cpi.com

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