Breakfast event hightlights the region’s journey to Net Zero

By Ben Carey on 14 July, 2023

Thrings Solicitors hosted an interactive ‘Net Zero Breakfast’ at their Swindon office on Wednesday 12th July.

‘How can Swindon and Wiltshire tackle the challenges around reaching Net Zero?’ was the question at the heart of the event which was attended by more than 60 people from businesses, local authorities and other organisations across the region.

With speakers from a range of backgrounds putting forward their experiences, views and suggestions on the climate agenda, the event provided plenty of insights and considerations for the business community.

Thrings Planning Partner and Head of Development of Land Ros Trotman opened the event with a presentation giving the background of the UK’s journey to Net Zero, the commitments made by the Government and the progress made to date.

This was followed by a talk from Councillor Tamara Reay, Portfolio Holder for Climate Change at Wiltshire Council, on what approach the Local Authority is taking to Net Zero. This included a breakdown of the policy areas and the comprehensive delivery plan to not only address the challenge but also incorporate and encourage the private sector and the public to play their part.

Proceedings culminated in a panel discussion led by Paddy Bradley MBE, CEO of the Swindon and Wiltshire Local Enterprise Partnership (SWLEP), which discussed the potential outcomes of reaching Net Zero as well as asking whether more needed to be done.

The panel included:

  • Councillor Jane Milner-Barry, Swindon Borough Council
  • Andrew Cornell, CEO, Advanced Biofuels Solutions Ltd
  • Ionut Toderita, COO, Simpson and Partners
  • Glenn Hunt-Whitfield, CEO, Seamach Energy.

Among the opportunities Net Zero presented that were discussed by the panel included the prospect of more green jobs, as well as the benefits collaboration and cross-boundary co-operation could have in attracting investment and making future savings.

Meanwhile the challenges raised included the increasing need to upskill and educate across all industries, whilst exploring sustainable and supportive finance strategies. It was also highlighted that grid connections and under-capacity in the UK clearly had the potential to delay progress as well as the planning system particularly for on-shore wind.

Natalia Sokolov, Partner in the Thrings Construction and Engineering team and Lead on Clean Energy, said, “Achieving Net Zero will require creativity, action and collaboration across the region and nationally, but it is arguably the regional and individual efforts that could make the biggest difference in the race against climate change and it was great to see businesses in Swindon and Wiltshire ready to step up.

“With such a diverse array of organisations in attendance for the event, it really made for an interesting discussion, particularly around the support mechanisms required on a regional level, and investment opportunities and blockers on the finance side, and it was interesting to see the innovative and considered views being put forward during the debate.”

Paddy Bradley MBE, CEO at SWLEP, added, “It was a pleasure to be asked by Thrings to chair the panel discussion for the event and I want to thank everyone who attended for the strong opinions and probing questions being put to our panel and speakers.

“The challenges we face in protecting our climate are not just limited to certain areas and it will require a collective effort to ensure lasting sustainable change; it is reassuring to know so many in the business sector share that view.”