Fast Followers accelerate towards Net Zero

Posted on: 24/05/2023

Innovate UK is funding 21 Local Authorities across the UK to accelerate progress towards hitting Net Zero targets.

Fast Followers is part of Innovate UK’s Net Zero Living Programme, designed to help places and businesses across the UK to accelerate the delivery of the transition to Net Zero.

A competitive process has seen 21 Local Authorities across the UK receive £6m funding from Fast Followers to help their areas to accelerate innovation, all with one aim – achieving Net Zero.

These projects, some in urban areas like Birmingham and Edinburgh and some rural like Devon and the Outer Hebrides, are all designed to overcome non-technical barriers like citizen engagement or procurement.

Innovate UK’s Net Zero Living Programme aims to transform our towns, cities, and communities through removing the barriers to adoption and creating demand for new Net Zero technologies. This cohort of Fast Followers winners demonstrate innovative ideas that are designed at grass roots level specifically to overcome their particular barriers and sometimes unique challenges. Seeing the range of projects is inspiring and, as well as running their individual initiatives, the Local Authorities will share best-practice allowing others to capitalise on proven solutions.

– Mike Biddle, Executive Director, Net Zero, Innovate UK

The 21 Local Authority projects are:

Embedding Net Zero in Wakefield
Wakefield Council declared a Climate Emergency in May 2019 and has published a Climate Change Action Plan and a Pathway to Net Zero. The project will raise awareness of climate change, help people to understand the net zero plan and achieve the behaviour change essential to realise its net zero ambition.

Net Zero – Derry & Strabane – From Ambition to Action
This partnership will develop new and innovative systems for Derry & Strabane applying best practice learning and iterative place based programme delivery to create new forms of governance, policy, citizen engagement, cooperation and financing to deliver real term climate action.

Net Zero Transition for Businesses in East Birmingham
The project’s aim will be to engage with businesses, workers, entrepreneurs and residents in Tyseley Environmental Enterprise District (TEED) and wider East Birmingham to co-create a delivery plan for accelerating the net-zero transition for businesses.

Upskilling Domestic Retrofit – Haringey
Homes produce 50% of the Borough’s total carbon emissions and over 100,000 homes will require retrofitting to meet the Borough’s net zero target. The project will tackle the non-technical barriers to domestic retrofit through the implementation of a SME outreach and mentoring programme.

Mid and East Antrim Net Zero Business (MEANZ Business)
The project will deliver a tailored programme of engagement, support and dissemination on net zero to a range of stakeholders, targeting around 400 relevant businesses in the Borough.

Driving Net Zero transformation of Mid South West region in Northern Ireland
The aim of this collaborative project is to appoint a Net Zero Delivery Officer who will co-ordinate the regional development of both Council Net Zero action plans and industry-led, sector-specific Net Zero opportunity assessments and action plans that will support the MSW region in the transition to Net Zero.

Cardiff Council Behaviour Change – Let’s Go Net Zero
The funding provides a unique opportunity to analyse the decisions making systems at play in the Council. It will fully utilise the knowledge and experience provided through the Fast Followers programme to embed Net Zero into its governance, decision making and investment strategies for long term benefits.

Engaging Gateshead with Zero Carbon Heat
This project would provide the evidence base and resource for its approach to heating homes through heat networks to be rolled out across the Borough, working towards its target of 15,000 homes to be connected to the heat network.

Power Calderdale
With steep sided valleys and riverside communities, flooding has increased and this direct experience of climate impact is driving local demand for climate action. This project will use innovative whole system approaches to explore retrofit barriers and find solutions.

Financing Net Zero, Devon
This project would use innovation to address the barrier of finance in two different ways. Firstly, the recruitment of a Net Zero Delivery and Innovation Officer. Secondly, developing investment playbooks and Net Zero Delivery Vehicles that bring projects to investment readiness and then source private and public investment to unlock opportunities.

Advancing Retrofit to Drive Net Zero in Three Rivers
This retrofit-centred Programme, comprising two workstreams, will enable Three Rivers District Council to accelerate progress towards its Net Zero targets using an innovative, data-informed and community-focused approach. The Programme will comprise a two-pronged approach to accelerating retrofit locally which will deliver economic, health and wellbeing and environmental co-benefits.

Forest of Dean Fast Followers (F3)
Forest Fast Followers (F3) aims to resolve non-technical barriers within Councils and Districts through training staff and Councillors in better practice for Net Zero; improved understanding of increased community action for Districts; and using live projects across the District to identify and evaluate improvements.

Norfolk Climate Change Partnership (NCCP) Project: Clean Growth & Citizen Preparedness
The NCCP’s purpose is to respond collectively to reduce territorial carbon emissions, thereby facilitating Norfolk’s Net Zero aims. The project will provide citizens, communities and visitors with relevant information to enable people to take transformational steps (big or small) to modify behaviour in favour of Net Zero; and support the business sectors to benefit from clean growth..

Co-County Carbon Co-ordination; a co-ordinated approach to achieving Net Zero at scale, Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire
Building on the Net Zero collaboration in each D2N2 LEP County, Fast Followers funding will support the co-ordination of strategic projects including: a Co-County Net Zero project pipeline; an energy master plan; a stakeholder engagement plan on behaviour change; and the operation and maintenance of low carbon technologies for residents.

Edinburgh and South East Scotland City Region Deal Net Zero Innovation and Delivery Programme
As the fastest growing region in Scotland, a 40% increase in new homes is needed every year. To transform both public and private housing to meet Net Zero ambitions, the region needs a well-trained workforce with the skills and capabilities for domestic retrofit and energy efficiency in new homes. The current and future construction workforce crosses South East Scotland local authority boundaries, so it makes sense for all councils to work together with government, industry, City Region Deal organisations, colleges and universities. This funding will allow the appointment of a Net Zero Innovation and Delivery Officer to run feasibility studies on the skills barriers for Net Zero housing; maximise upskilling delivery and avoid duplication of effort to create a common regional approach.

Westminster Retrofit Taskforce
The Taskforce will shape and pilot innovative new approaches to retrofitting Westminster’s unique built environment. New delivery methodologies will be developed to make retrofit more efficient and effective and pilot retrofit projects that test the boundary of current approaches will be developed and delivered with partners including social housing providers, commercial property owners and multi-ownership residential buildings. Lessons from innovative, boundary-testing approaches and pilots will inform improvements to planning policy and practice and improve the perception of retrofit in Westminster. Collectively these efforts will drive an upscaling of retrofit much needed for our achievement of Net Zero emission city by 2040.

Warrington Carbon Culture
Warrington Carbon Culture will engage more people with the local Net Zero agenda to widen participation and increase activity. Its novel approach takes the tried and tested Carbon Literacy model and pairs it with a follow on support programme to boost impact and secure wider action. The project will extend the number of people who are individually Carbon Literate but importantly help build a wider Carbon Literate culture to support local action.

Co-operative Heat Network, Blackpool
Blackpool’s ambition is that within a decade, its economy will be rejuvenated and its carbon footprint minimised. It is planning a series of renewable-powered, efficient, ‘edge’ data centres which will underpin a new innovation economy. These data centres will be liquid cooled and their excess heat will feed into a new heat network providing a lower carbon heat source to homes and businesses across the town. The Council is looking at innovative business models to share risks among the different stakeholders and ultimately attract investment to accelerate heat generator connections.

Green Economy Transition, Newham
A Green Economy lead will work across the Council and with diverse businesses and communities to understand the barriers to the take up of sustainable practices, to understand and challenge perceptions and to collectively build a transition plan. This will incorporate resource and governance; enabling, empowering and encouraging behaviour change amongst residents and businesses; enhancing Newham’s strategic influence in the Green Economy; and building wider skills and capacity to deliver.

Outer Hebrides Net Zero Foundations
A project to enable locally generated renewable energy to be supplied directly to Outer Hebrides communities at reduced costs, alleviating fuel poverty and reducing imports from the mainland grid.

St Albans Greener Together
The project will empower and enable local residents and businesses to come together to create a more environmentally sustainable future. St Albans Greener Together will inspire ideas and provide expert advice, support and funding to enable local people to bring forward practical solutions. St Albans City and District Council and the University of Hertfordshire are working with local stakeholders to develop an innovative climate change communications, education and behaviour change campaign and a community fund will be established to support local Net Zero activities.

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Net Zero Living

Net Zero Living

Innovate UK’s £60 million, three-year Net Zero Living Programme aims to help places and businesses across the UK to accelerate the transition to net zero.


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