County Durham businesses will be able to access support to reduce their carbon footprint and save money thanks to a £1.5m funding pot.
Durham County Council has been accepted as part of Interreg Europe’s SME Power, a European Union-funded project that helps small and medium sized businesses (SMEs) change their energy behaviour, reduce operational costs and cut carbon emissions.
The council is to receive £160,000 from the fund, which supports projects running from now until July 2022.
It will see environmental experts from across Europe work with SMEs to help them develop projects such as energy audits and monitoring; developing more energy efficient products; building refurbishment; and more innovative processes.
SME Power is being co-ordinated by the Resources Recovery Regional Agency of Tuscany. It includes an advisory partner from Germany and partners from regions in Slovenia, Spain, Ireland, Finland and the United Kingdom.
The council has been welcomed into the scheme because of the success of its Business Energy Efficiency Project (BEEP).
Supported by the European Regional Development Fund, the programme has helped 200 local businesses to improve their energy performance and save money. It is hoped additional grants can be secured to fund a BEEP 2 project.
Cllr John Clare, the council’s climate change champion, said: “In February, we declared a climate emergency and set ourselves a target to be carbon neutral by 2050. This funding will help us to meet that target and we are delighted to be a part of this project.
“It can be difficult for SMEs to know how to reduce their carbon emissions. This project encourages businesses and energy experts to work together to explore methods that will not only benefit our planet but increase profits by reducing production and running costs.”
Interreg Europe helps regional and local governments across Europe to develop and deliver better policy. To find out more, visit www.interregeurope.eu/
To find out more about BEEP, visit www.durham.gov.uk/beep
• Pictured above (from left): Durham County Council officers Nadia Wetherell, Stephen Beresford, Helen Grayshan, Maggie Bosanquet, Dorothy Gibson and Ros Farrow, who helped secure the funding.