The Low Carbon Kent Team at Kent County Council has been leading a partnership of local authorities and higher education bodies in transitioning SMEs to more sustainable practices since 2016. This has just received agreement to continue to June 2023 and expand support to any SME based in Surrey, Hampshire and the Solent.
The Low Carbon Across the South East (LoCASE) programme has secured EU grant funding for 1,248 local firms in Kent, Essex and East Sussex, valued at over £8.4M. This has supported actions from simple retrofit LED projects, to renewable energy installations, but also software and hardware to streamline production, increase efficiencies and enable home-working capabilities for staff. The programme has contributed over 7,800 tonnes of CO2 equivalent savings, creating some significant air quality impacts along the way.
We have helped identify and implement the measures that are needed longer term to enable our SMEs to run a smoother functioning ‘modern’ business, or innovate to find new markets with circular and/or sustainable business cases.
Thanet Indoors Bowls Club Ltd are an indoor bowls facility in Margate, Kent. They were one of the first businesses to contact the programme for advice, support and funding in December 2016. Following an initial visit by Kent’s Business Energy Advisor, a viable project was selected to improve the overall light levels on the rink and the rest of the building (around 340 fittings), whilst slashing electricity use. Grant funding covering 40 % of the cost of the work was provided and as a result, the facility has already made a full return on their investment, saving over £8.5K per year in costs and improving the playing (and social) experience for members and visiting players alike.
The team works closely with the region’s Low Carbon and Environmental Goods and Services (LCEGS) sector with over 500 SMEs supported with £4M to help them establish, expand or enhance their operations and activities. This has included extra research and development support, consultancy or marketing activity, plant/machinery purchases. We have partly funded development and marketing of 82 new products and services and helped create over 350 regional jobs (including 83 new companies) in what is an exciting and growing sector. There is additional support for our LCEGS and clean growth sector via a Sector Support Fund initiative. This will help us identify, work with, and develop any company that is looking to promote positive change in the South East region.
There are also several other schemes that offer complementary support. For example, Low Carbon Kent runs two exciting circular economy projects to help reduce ‘waste’ and turn it into new products; offer support to enter the offshore wind supply chain; a ‘try before you buy’ electric van scheme; and some business resilience toolkits to support ongoing business planning. Like many other initiatives, dig deeper and there’s so much more to what we have been and will continue to do for our local businesses.
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