Growing Green, a pilot scheme to help horticultural and food and drink businesses in Kent move to net-zero, heralded as a success for both the local economy and the environment by report.
As well as driving down carbon emissions, the independent report into the initiative led by Growing Kent & Medway, anticipates the project will deliver over 20 new jobs and £3million in GVA (gross value added) in Kent and Medway by 2028.
The 12-month programme supported 33 small local businesses to help them move towards net-zero carbon emissions. It provided training, co-developed decarbonisation action plans and issued grants to 24 of the businesses to the value of £180,000. The project was funded by the UK Government and Growing Green partners through the UK Community Renewal Fund.
Sarah Nurden, Kent County Council, who monitored the UK Community Renewal Fund for the region, said: “Supporting local businesses to thrive, grow, and become better prepared to tackle future challenges (such as climate change) are key ambitions both for central and local government. Kent County Council is delighted with the progress that NIAB and partners have made in helping small businesses to reduce their greenhouse-gas emissions through offering them tailored support to help them achieve this.
“This project has successfully addressed a range of barriers that smaller businesses face when managing their environmental impact. It provided access to independent, dependable advice, and critically, provided access to finance to invest in innovation and new technologies.”
According to UK local authority and regional greenhouse gas emissions statistics from the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), carbon emissions fell more slowly in Kent and Medway (22.6% to 7,292.8 kilotonnes) between 2015 and 2020, than the rate of decline in the wider South East (24.7%) and the national rate for England (23.4%).
Dr Nikki Harrison, Programme Director, Growing Kent & Medway, said: “We designed Growing Green to provide guidance and financial support to not only directly impact the businesses on the programme, but to inspire and demonstrate to other businesses in our sector how they too can reduce carbon levels and make environmental improvements.
“While the pilot scheme has now finished, we’ll be continuing to generate interest in the latest innovation and new technologies available for smaller businesses to move towards net-zero through Growing Kent & Medway grant funding, events, case studies and information on our website.”
Growing Kent & Medway has published a series of videos, showing how local businesses are addressing their environmental impact. The topics covered include carbon capture and reuse in brewing, reducing food waste, finding value in by-product waste streams, heat and water use, electrifying refrigerated vehicles and bottle return schemes.
Jason Perrott, Founder of Ro-gro, a vertical farm growing micro herbs and salads in Kent, is using a Growing Green grant to insulate their electric delivery vehicle, instead of using a fossil fuel powered vehicle with a cooling unit. “There were clear measurable benefits of our project. Based on 20,000 miles of delivery, the electric van saves 3,600kg of carbon. So, we’re saving a lot of CO2.
“Growing Green has improved the way I approach environmental management. We now have a framework to look at how we can make improvements to our whole business, including our fertilisers, composting and rainwater harvesting.”