An ambitious programme of water and energy conservation projects has been unveiled by the Greater Brighton city region as it bids to “grow back greener” from the lockdown crisis.

Amid continuing population growth in the region, water supplies under pressure and energy use growing, Greater Brighton is seizing the initiative to initiate, support and coordinate scores of projects which will help the environment and lead a sustainable economic recovery.

After working on the plan for more than a year, the energy and water projects were unveiled at a meeting of the Greater Brighton Economic Board (GBEB) yesterday. (July 14)

The projects include:

  • Retrofitting thousands of homes to improve energy efficiency
  • Using solar power to supply energy to public buildings and the rail network
  • Achieving water use neutrality in the region despite the influx of 97,000 more people by 2030
  • Supporting local heat networks using natural ground heat to cut out fossil fuels
  • Backing schemes to use hydrogen as an alternative fuel for transport
  • Lobbying for the restoration of kelp beds off our coast to capture carbon
  • Developing water recycling projects for domestic use on new estates
  • Rapidly increasing the network of Electric Vehicle charging points

These and other schemes are aimed at achieving zero carbon emissions from the Greater Brighton region well before the government’s own target of 2050 and reducing household water consumption to 100 litres a day by 2040 as the region is facing a daily deficit of 90 million litres a day in that time.

Yesterday GBEB backed the schemes and agreed to begin immediately lobbying the government for funding. It is estimated that 700,000 jobs across the UK could be created if such schemes were adopted.

The chairman of the Greater Brighton Infrastructure Panel, Ian McAulay, who is also Chief Executive Officer of Southern Water, said: “These energy and water reports have taken hours of work and involved people with fantastic expertise from the private and public sector across Greater Brighton. There are some genuinely exciting and innovative projects which can help us on the road to economic recovery from the pandemic and, as importantly, will make a significant contribution to the environmental protection of our region. 

“We cannot forget in all this that we live in one of the most water-stressed parts of the country and our carbon emissions are still too high.

“The strength of Greater Brighton is that our councils, universities, environment groups and companies like my own can pool our expertise, use our combined strength to get these projects moving forward and the combined skills and talents of our people to effect real change in this region.”

As well as Southern Water, the Environment Agency, UK Power Networks and Community Energy South were involved in the panel work with Greater Brighton members making it one of the most authoritative studies on green growth ever seen in the south.

GBEB members agreed to receive regular updates on progress and sign up to a Greater Brighton 10 Pledge environmental commitment at their next meeting in October.

Cllr Daniel Humphreys, GBEB Chairman, said: “The projects put forward are ambitious, innovative and achievable, with the potential to deliver real change for our communities. We now must put forward a compelling case for investment so that we can capitalise on the expertise that the City Region has in this all important sector.”