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Wiltshire Climate Strategy Discussion Document January 2021

Green and circular economy

Where we are now?

Our economy in Wiltshire is noted for its innovation and entrepreneurialism and its good quality of life is a draw to businesses and employees. Wiltshire's rich historic environment and landscapes, including three areas of outstanding natural beauty, mean that tourism will be an ongoing part of the economy. The farming industry in Wiltshire is a significant contributor to food production in the South West and nationally and forms the working environment and landscape that we are familiar with.

This context represents opportunities and challenges in relation to carbon reduction and climate resilience. 

In 2020 there were 22,200 Wiltshire businesses, of which 90% were micro businesses (with 9 employees or fewer) and only 75 were large (250+ employees).  In 2019 Wiltshire had a total of 207,000 jobs.  The dominant employment sectors that year were retail, health and social care, professional services and public administration. In 2018, 1800 jobs in Wiltshire could be classed as green jobs (opens new window).  

The Government's "10-point Plan for a Green Industrial Revolution" indicates the importance placed on supporting the green economy, for its capability to support the carbon neutral ambition, as well as the opportunity to provide employment and skills to support economic recovery. As set out in the built environment theme, financial grants are already being offered to support decarbonisation of public sector buildings, and to help individuals make energy efficiency improvements to their homes. 

The Swindon and Wiltshire Local Enterprise Partnership produced a Local Energy Strategy (opens new window) in 2018 which focuses on four key priorities for the area:

  • Smart grids and mitigating constraints
  • Hydrogen technology innovation and deployment
  • The transition to new energy vehicles
  • Low carbon growth

The Target 2030 (opens new window) programme provides advice and funding to SMEs to save on their energy bills.

What does a climate resilient and carbon neutral Wiltshire look like?

Our market towns are effective service, employment and retail hubs which reduce the need to travel for work, shopping, etc.

Wiltshire businesses are carbon neutral and climate resilient, and Wiltshire has a strong, green economy. To be 'green' our economic activity must avoid environmental degradation, be efficient, resilient and fair. It includes investing in sectors that can support a transition to carbon neutrality alongside economic recovery. 

This means strengthening sectors such as renewable energy, sustainable construction, water management and sustainable transport.

For Wiltshire businesses this means putting in place systems and measures to monitor and reduce emissions. Businesses will also need to assess and be prepared for the risks associated with climate change, for example the need to plan for overheating which can affect buildings, infrastructure and operations, as well as having implications for staff productivity and the need to adjust working patterns or protective measures. The challenge for small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) to implement the necessary measures with limited resources and expertise is recognised.

At the heart of a resilient, carbon neutral economy is the concept of circular economy. This means that resources are used as efficiently as possible and changes what was traditionally a linear process - using things and then throwing them away - to a circular process where value is retained and recovered within the system. 

What will make this happen?

The Local Plan provides a framework to support the sustainable development of our market towns.

We will need to seize all available opportunities to create jobs that support the transition to a carbon neutral Wiltshire as these will also support economic recovery following the pandemic. Estimates by the Local Government Association (opens new window) show Wiltshire's potential for jobs in the low-carbon and renewable energy sector. This shows that 6,856 green jobs will be required by 2030, and 13,040 (6% of the current total) are projected to be green jobs by 2050.  Given Wiltshire's current position of 1800 green jobs, this gives a compound annual growth rate of approximately 12% to 2030 and 3% to 2050.

Wiltshire and Swindon's Local Industrial Strategy recognises that we are at the brink of change and aims to help shape Wiltshire as a prosperous, productive and inclusive community.

Government funded projects to decarbonise public sector buildings and to retrofit council homes can incorporate opportunities to develop skills in the county, showcase new technologies, and provide employment. Funding will need to be ongoing to encourage employers and training providers to invest in skills development.

Innovation will be a key part of the transition to a circular economy. Wiltshire's industries will need to explore how to reduce emissions and increase resource efficiency throughout supply chains. There is an opportunity to capitalise on the Great West Way touring route and showcase positive projects, including carbon neutral catering and tourist venues.

Consumers will increasingly need to take into account the impacts of their choices - more information, e.g. labelling, will help us to be aware of carbon emissions, recyclability and ethical impacts of products, services and technology that we use.

A shift to more local production and distribution is a key opportunity, requiring significant investment in local town centres and a change in shopping habits.

The required changes for a green, resilient and circular economy cannot be achieved by any one organisation or community alone. All levels of government, as well as campaign groups, community groups and individuals will need to embrace the transition in order to make the necessarily changes.

Jobs will be created in some sectors and lost in others. To date 'green' products have often been a luxury that not all can afford. It is crucial that everyone can benefit from the transition to a low carbon future and there is support and information for businesses, organisations and individuals who need it.

What Wiltshire Council can do

  • Stimulate the green and circular economy and local supply chains by championing best practice in key sectors such as waste management and recovery, housing retrofit, electric vehicles and investment in renewables
  • Work in partnership with Wiltshire's larger companies on resource efficiency and best practice
  • Work with its suppliers to require, encourage and support them to measure and decrease their carbon emissions
  • Work with local networks to support small organisations, from SMEs to local charities, to become resilient and sustainable
  • Continue to promote 'shop local' campaigns
  • Support the growth of businesses focused on sustainability and attract new ones to invest in the county
  • Work with training providers and employers to increase training for green skills
  • Input to government policy and funding programmes, to make sure they are appropriate for Wiltshire residents and businesses

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