Efforts to create a comprehensive environment-friendly energy plan for the entire Greater Brighton region have this week taken a major step forward.

A top-level investigation is underway to examine current and future energy needs which will look at a huge range of issues including the growth of population, business need, car use and how much cycling is undertaken.

Recommendations on power, heat and transport will be made to help Greater Brighton move to a carbon neutral economy by 2050 while reducing household bills and fuel poverty. A step up in solar power and energy storage use is likely to be high on the agenda.

Greater Brighton, the city region which stretches from Gatwick in the north, Seaford in the east to Worthing in the west, has appointed leading energy consultants BuroHappold to lead the project. The company has worked on energy strategies for local authorities across the UK helping to introduce energy-saving heat networks, organic systems to turn food waste into biogas and smart-charging grid projects.

BuroHappold will now survey the energy plans of all local authorities within Greater Brighton and how they fit in with national and regional levels. The consultants will build up a comprehensive picture of energy need and how that fits in with the region’s carbon neutral aspirations.

The project is headed by Greater Brighton’s Infrastructure Panel under which two working groups are looking at both energy and water conservation. The water group is suggesting that the city region adopts a target of reducing average daily water use to 80 litres per person by 2050, down from the current level of about 130 litres.

Ollie Pendered, chairman of the Greater Brighton Energy Working Group, pictured right, said: “With many councils declaring climate emergencies, now is the time to create plans for the future of energy in our city region. This energy plan will give Greater Brighton partners the opportunity to work together to create a vision for low-carbon energy.

“We will create a highly practical route map that will set us on the road to being carbon neutral, and a pipeline of achievable low-carbon and renewable energy projects.”

BuroHappold are a global engineering and consultancy practice which has recently conducted a Greater London Authority study on the capital’s solar power potential and a study for Waltham Forest modelling future emissions and developing a long term climate change strategy for the Borough. 

Phil Proctor, Associate Director at BuroHappold, said: “We are delighted to have been selected to support the development of the  Greater Brighton Energy Plan. An integrated regional energy strategy is crucial in delivering against local and central government targets for greenhouse emissions whilst also delivering on  economic growth and affordable energy for consumers. The Greater Brighton region recognise this and we very much look forward to working with them over the next few months.”

Organisations as varied as Southern Water, South East Water, UK Power Networks, the Environment Agency, the universities of Brighton and Sussex and businesses including Ricardo and IBM have also been involved in the work.

Both working parties are due to make reports back to the Greater Brighton Economic Board in January.

Chairman of Greater Brighton, Cllr Dan Humphreys, said: “The strength of Greater Brighton is clear in this project. Only by combining with all local authorities, businesses and education providers can we deliver a co-ordinated and cohesive energy plan which will make a real difference to the environment and residents. Working in isolation on this issue would just not work. I look forward to seeing the recommendations.”