HomeGreening the economyBig manifesto ideas: inspiration on innovation, planning and UK jobs

Big manifesto ideas: inspiration on innovation, planning and UK jobs

parliamentWith less than a year to go until the next election, we’re focused on stimulating strong ideas for the new parliament. As well as offering our own, we’re asking other leading thinkers and experts for their one big manifesto idea.

Today’s three proposals would boost UK jobs, stimulate the low carbon economy and give people more control over shaping where they live. There’s a lot to like, here and in the nine other ideas we’ve posted so far in this series, on the 16 May20 May and 29 May.

But which of them get your vote? We’ll be posting more throughout June. We invite you to join in the discussion on twitter or build on the ideas and propose your own via the blog comments.



Tom Delay150No 10

Tom Delay
Chief executive of The Carbon Trust

What’s the big idea?
A low carbon innovation fund

To create a new future energy innovation fund – a windfall tax on any new oil and shale gas projects – to finance a £3 billion expansion in innovation funding during the next parliament.  Any public funding should be leveraged to ensure maximum impact by partnering with the private sector and other interested governments.

Who benefits?
Ultimately everyone: consumers, business and the government, through lower bills, more efficient industry and an expansion of new jobs and exports.  An investment of £3 billion in innovation over the next parliament across 11 technology areas could reduce the cost of deploying each individual technology by £3-45 billion by 2050 and create an increase in gross value added to the UK economy of £1-18 billion per technology via exports.

Two areas to really focus on given the size of the economic and environmental prize are industrial energy efficiency and offshore wind:

  • Offshore wind: There is an urgent need to test new offshore wind turbines on novel foundations so that they can be deployed in time to meet renewable energy targets, including unlocking sites in deeper waters through lower costs and innovation.  The Carbon Trust’s Offshore Wind Accelerator, an industry-government collaboration, is already taking this forward.  This could be accelerated by further investment and establish UK leadership in this area.  Further innovation here could save up to £20 billion and contribute up to £35 billion by 2050. It will also drive down the cost of energy to consumers.
  • Industrial energy efficiency accelerator: Industry produces a quarter of the UK’s carbon emissions.  We know that almost 30 per cent of industrial energy use can be can saved through the introduction of innovation in industrial processes such as heat recovery and combustion efficiency.  These savings can be realised across at least 15 sectors by working in collaboration with the leaders and innovators in each sector to identify innovative opportunities, demonstrate and then disseminate them across the rest of the sector.  This innovation will also result in a more competitive industrial base for the UK.

What’s the catch?
No clear catch beyond an increase in DECC’s budget.

What has to change?

  • Political parties have to commit to a new tax regime.
  • Funding raised should be hypothecated to spend on low carbon innovation.

Why should it be in manifestos?
A step change in investment in innovation, focused on key low carbon technology options, would not only help the UK reach its carbon reduction targets in 2030 but also significantly reduce the cost of future energy and create leading industries, new jobs and boost UK exports.



Merlin Hyman - Regen SWNo. 11

Merlin Hyman
Chief executive of RegenSW

What’s the big idea ?
Boost UK jobs with mandatory supply chain plans for renewables

By requiring that every renewables project over 5 MW has a supply chain plan, including details of how they will ensure local suppliers have the opportunity to compete, and to consult on that plan with the Local Enterprise Partnership, UK jobs would be put at heart of the industry.

Who benefits?
Over 100,000 people already work in the renewable energy sector in the UK.  However, as the sector grows there is potential for that to be just the start. A drive to develop the UK supply chain could create 10,000s of extra jobs.

What’s the catch?
The government will need to have the capacity to assess that the supply plans have been properly carried out and Local Enterprise Partnership will need the capacity to be able to comment on whether local companies have been given the opportunity to compete.

What has to change?

  • The current threshold for supply chain plans, as part of the new Contract for Difference (CfD) regime for renewable energy has to drop from 300 MW to all projects over 5 MW
  • An explicit requirement is needed for the plans to ensure local suppliers have the opportunity to compete on a level playing field.
  • Local Enterprise Partnerships need to be made statutory consultees on the plans.
  • Government sign off of the supply chain will be required for a project to be awarded a CfD.

Why should it be in manifestos?
By ensuring UK suppliers have the opportunity compete for contracts in all larger renewable energy projects, we can help support the development of a thriving UK renewable energy industry in a global market which is worth over $200 billion dollars a year and predicted to grow rapidly. Ensuring local suppliers are fairly considered in all larger renewable energy projects will help ensure local communities to see the benefits of the billions of pounds of investment going into the renewables projects they host.

@MerlinHyman   @RegenSW


Neil Sinden 150No.12

Neil Sinden
Director of policy and campaigns at CPRE

What’s the big idea?
A community right of appeal

This would strengthen community involvement in local planning by introducing a community right of appeal against decisions which conflict with local objectives for development. It would be a new legal right that could be exercised by a parish councils or, where they don’t exist, by a formally constituted neighbourhood forum against planning decisions which conflict with an emerging or adopted neighbourhood or local plan. It is anticipated that the right would not be used widely but would act as a backstop to avoid perverse outcomes and give local communities greater confidence that planning decisions will be in line with local objectives.

Who benefits?
It could benefit the 8,000 parish councils and emerging new neighbourhood forums in unparished areas who want to take more control over the way their locality develops. It would be of particular benefit to those that have embarked on the preparation of a neighbourhood plan: one of the more visionary aspects of the government’s recent planning reforms. And it will give additional encouragement to those that have not yet decided to take this path.

What’s the catch?
A similar commitment has already been adopted by each of the main parties when in opposition but they have failed to implement it once in power. This suggests that countervailing political realities: the power of the development lobby, the advice of officials, and legislative considerations, need to be overcome if  such a reform is to be introduced by a future government. The misplaced idea that it would be simply a way of stopping development, rather than securing appropriate development in line with local aspirations, also needs to be challenged.

What has to change?

  • Attitudes to local community involvement in planning need to change. Greater local involvement needs to be seen as positive rather than a block on necessary development.
  • Business needs to embrace a new approach to community engagement and stop fearing genuine local involvement in decisions over the development and use of land.
  • Negative attitudes that exist in some communities towards appropriate change and development might also need to change.

Why should it be in manifestos
Public engagement in place-shaping is critical to improved environmental, economic and community well being. There is widespread public concern that aspirations for more local involvement in planning are not being met. Neighbourhood planning is here to stay but has not been widely taken up. A community right of appeal, appropriately defined, will help to address this and should give people greater confidence that their involvement is worthwhile, by encouraging development in line with locally defined objectives. Experience shows that such an approach need not be anti-development but can help get the right kind of development in the right place. There will always be a need for local areas to accommodate major infrastructure in the national interest, but the starting point for better decisions on major development should be more community involvement in the hundreds of thousands of planning applications for smaller scale development that incrementally shape the places we live in.



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Green Alliance is a charity and independent think tank focused on ambitious leadership and increased political support for environmental solutions in the UK. This blog provides space for commentary and analysis around environmental politics and policy issues as they affect the UK. The views of external contributors do not necessarily represent those of Green Alliance.