Co-operatives UK joins metro mayors’ taskforce on green energy

Greater Manchester and Liverpool mayors Andy Burnham and Steve Rotherham want to map their renewable potential – and explore options for local ownership

Metro mayors Andy Burnham and Steve Rotheram have launched a taskforce to explore whether sufficient green energy through wind, hydro, solar – and even grass – could be harvested to power the equivalent of their city regions – Greater Manchester and Liverpool.

The Green Energy Task Force, launched this week at the Greater Manchester Green Summit, is a collaboration between the Greater Manchester and Liverpool City Regions, green entrepreneur Dale Vince and Co-operatives UK and supported by Climate Outreach. It will map the green energy potential of both city regions and look at how people in the north west can directly own and control those resources.

Dale Vince, founder of green energy supplier Ecotricity, said: “We can power the whole of Britain by harnessing our wind, sun, waves and even grass. And we know it makes most sense for the people to own these resources, so that the benefits accrue to us as a country. 

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“The Green Energy Task Force is a first step towards that and doing so at a regional level – starting with the Greater Manchester and Liverpool regions. It will create a blueprint that can be replicated across the country, by all regions – in pursuit of a net zero carbon in the 2030s.” 

The taskforce will explore new opportunities as well as building upon existing work and partnerships in both city regions – potentially accelerating the development of Liverpool City Region’s tidal plans and Greater Manchester’s `Go neutral’ solar photovoltaic programme.

Greater Manchester’s Labour/Co-op mayor Burnham said: “We want to seize the problem in the north-west head on. Energy bills have skyrocketed. People feel powerless. When we look at our wind and our other renewables, ownership of our energy is up for grabs. 

“Why not us, the people and businesses of the north-west – the stakeholders – make a play for this? Let the people be in control. So I’m delighted that Dale and the taskforce have agreed to take on this challenge and I’m really excited about what we’ll come up with.”

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Liverpool’s Labour mayor Rotheram added: “I want our area to lead the decarbonisation race, a mission that has never been more important given skyrocketing energy bills and the ongoing debate around energy security. The Liverpool City Region has the potential to be the UK’s renewable energy coast, capitalising on our strengths in wind, solar, hydrogen and tidal power.

“Someone has to take advantage of the green industrial revolution, so why shouldn’t it be our region? I want us to take advantage of as many of those well-paid jobs of the future as we can and I’m really looking forward to working with Dale and the taskforce to put our region front and centre.”

The taskforce will explore ownership models for new and existing green energy. A focus will be on co-operative and community ownership, with stakeholders to potentially include local authorities, public bodies, private business and taxpayers. 

Rose Marley, Co-operatives UK’s CEO, said: “We can’t achieve net zero in the UK without mobilising communities and unlocking community-led action on climate. And local government is uniquely placed to invest; to unlock sites; to be a bridge to communities.

“Bringing together combined authorities, private businesses and most importantly, local people, is a powerful mix. It’s a multi-stakeholder co-operative and they already exist. Look at Plymouth Council and Plymouth Energy Community. We need more and the Green Energy Task Force is a really positive step towards that ambition.”

Dr Amiera Sawas, of climate change communications experts Climate Outreach, said: “We see a desire to want to do something, but nobody knows what or how. This could be a really empowering and practical way to engage the population in creating a solution to a problem affecting their everyday lives.”