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  • Hanaa Siddiqi

Bristol City Leap Unveils Ambitious £750 Million Blueprint for Comprehensive Decarbonization Initiative Across the City


Image credit: Bristol City Leap



In a groundbreaking move, Bristol City Leap, a collaborative effort between Bristol City Council, Ameresco, and Vattenfall Heat UK, unveiled a comprehensive £750 million plan to propel the city towards decarbonization. This ambitious twenty-year venture aims to slash Bristol's carbon emissions by 140,000 tonnes by 2028.


Enter Bristol City Leap, a dynamic partnership fueled by a visionary £750 million business blueprint. This comprehensive strategy, unveiled this week, is poised to catalyze the city's decarbonization drive over the next half-decade. With a collective resolve, the alliance is primed to deploy nearly 200MW of cutting-edge low-carbon energy infrastructure, illuminating approximately 70,000 households with its eco-friendly prowess.


But the ambitions don't end there. Bristol City Leap is committed to a holistic approach, promising a network of electric vehicle charging stations sprawled across the cityscape. Additionally, a monumental initiative to retrofit 167 social housing units and nine towering edifices underscores the venture's dedication to inclusivity and sustainability.


Furthermore, the partnership vows to usher in a new era of clean energy for educational institutions citywide while simultaneously implementing energy efficiency enhancements within the council's administrative realm.


Moreover, Bristol City Leap is poised to expand its reach, interconnecting local enterprises and structures via the Bristol Heat Network. The anticipated construction of a strategic heat artery is poised to facilitate broader adoption of low-carbon heating solutions for businesses and communities, slated for realization by 2026.


Adding to its repertoire of green initiatives, Bristol City Leap has recently tabled proposals for three ambitious renewable energy projects in the Avonmouth locale, signaling an unwavering commitment to a sustainable future.


This meticulously crafted £750 million blueprint builds upon a foundation of prior decarbonization endeavors and collaborative efforts with local entities, commercial stakeholders, and grassroots communities ever since the inception of Bristol City Leap in January 2023.


Spanning the horizon from 2024 to 2029, this visionary plan aims not only to attract an additional £100 million in funding beyond initial estimates but also forecasts the creation of 1,000 jobs offering wages that meet or exceed the Real Living Wage benchmark. By Mayor Marvin Rees's endorsement in 2023, the cumulative investment in Bristol is projected to soar to a staggering £771 million by the close of 2029, underscoring the enduring commitment to a sustainable, thriving urban landscape.


"Bristol City Leap is going from strength to strength, adding to the £100m decarbonization investment already made by our administration before securing this world-first partnership," Rees said. "This is a big deal for Bristol."


The strides made thus far in Bristol's sustainability journey are remarkable. Through initiatives like the Bright Green Homes scheme, over 200 low-income households have witnessed a transformation, with solar panels, heat pumps, and insulation upgrades breathing new life into their abodes. 


Meanwhile, the expansion of the Vattenfall Heat UK-operated Bristol Heat Network has extended its reach, now providing the equivalent of energy to over 5,000 homes, fostering warmth and vitality across the city.


In a testament to its commitment to community welfare, Bristol City Leap has emerged as a beacon of social progress, infusing more than £6.5 million of social value into the cityscape over the past year alone. This feat, achieved through a multifaceted approach, has created over 100 jobs and work placements and invigorated the local supply chain, ensuring that every worker receives equitable compensation meeting or exceeding the Real Living Wage standard.


Furthermore, the launch of the £1.5 million Bristol City Leap Community Energy Fund stands as a testament to the alliance's dedication to grassroots empowerment and sustainable development.


The impact of this endeavor surpasses expectations, with delivery exceeding targets by an impressive 55 percent in the partnership's inaugural year. This achievement encompasses a spectrum of contributions, including £3 million invested in local suppliers, over 50 weeks of invaluable work placements and experience, and a staggering 350 volunteer hours dedicated to enhancing the fabric of local communities.


"Bristol City Leap is a big deal for Bristolians," Rees added. "In its first year, Bristol City Leap has delivered £4m worth of energy efficiency measures for low-income households in our city - helping people cut their bills during the continuing national cost of living crisis.


"On top of that, Bristol City Leap is now inspiring other places, with government support, to look at our model for using clean energy to help build a city where nobody is left behind."


Mark Apsey, senior vice president for Ameresco UK and Bristol City Leap, reiterated that the "world first" joint venture approach to decarbonization could provide a scalable and replicable model for other cities to follow.


"City-scale long-term partnerships present us with an unparalleled opportunity to develop place-based energy solutions that help accelerate the transition to net zero while contributing significantly to society through local job creation, education, warmer homes, and much-needed funding to support our communities," he said.


"We are proud to be part of this initiative and look forward to working with everyone in Bristol to shape this green transformation with people, businesses, and communities across the city. We've been overwhelmed by the positive response received during our first year."


Hot on the heels of Bristol's ambitious £750 million blueprint, news surfaces of the West Midlands Combined Authority's decisive action, greenlighting a staggering £1.2 billion budget. This comprehensive financial allocation earmarks funds dedicated to catalyzing carbon emission reductions, fostering a sustainable transportation ecosystem, and spearheading a regional Plan for Growth geared towards achieving net zero emissions by 2041—nine years ahead of the national target set by the government.


Amidst this substantial investment lies a concerted effort to enhance living standards and employment opportunities, with significant sums dedicated to improving housing and job prospects for residents. Moreover, a substantial portion of the budget—amounting to £356 million—is earmarked for pivotal transport projects, poised to expand and decarbonize the region's public transit infrastructure, paving the way for a greener, more connected future.


As Bristol City Leap continues to spearhead initiatives that marry sustainability with social equity, the city stands poised to thrive as a model of conscientious urban development, nurturing its environment and inhabitants for generations to come.

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