Region urged to stoke its efforts in renewable energy revolution to access greater share of funding pot

Businesses and home owners in the North East are missing out on millions of pounds of government funding open to those wanting to go green.

Latest figures reveal the region is failing to fully benefit from the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) launched in 2011 to encourage the uptake of alternative energy systems such as biomass boilers.

Despite more than 14,000 applications to the fund, to date less than 5% have come from the North East compared to 15% in the South West and 10% in the West Midlands.

Placing near-bottom nationally has sparked a rallying cry from the region’s biomass experts urging local firms to benefit from the Westminster coffers.

Ben Tansey, co-founder of North East based biomass specialists re:heat, said: “Historically the North East has been at the forefront of the biomass sector with pioneering projects in the field.

“As a region we are aren’t performing as well as neighbouring areas despite being a largely rural population. There is a real opportunity for businesses to tap into this government funding to introduce cost-effective, ecologically friendly ways to heat their premises.”

Under the scheme, which aims to reduce UK carbon emissions by 44 million tonnes by 2020, businesses installing biomass boilers will benefit from the RHI for 20 years and domestic properties seven years.

Ross Smith, director of policy at the North East Chamber of Commerce, said: “Biomass heating represents a real opportunity for many companies to access a heat source which, as well as being environmentally sustainable, is economically viable with secure supply and low taxes.

“While many companies have explored solar and wind as alternatives to traditional fuels we would urge anyone looking at these options to consider biomass.  The North East has the natural resources and a long history of pioneering new sustainable technologies in an industrial setting and with the government assistance available, this has become more financially viable in recent years.”