Local authorities team up to issue large-scale retrofit schemes initially worth £1.7bn

Billions of pounds worth of retrofitting work is set to be procured by some of England’s largest regional cities in response to the government’s flagship Green Deal scheme.

Councils across the north-east of England, as well as in the Greater Manchester, Leeds and Bristol city regions, Nottingham and West Sussex, are prepping plans to invest more than £300m in the government’s Green Deal over the next few months - a figure that could rise to billions as the schemes are rolled out.

The councils’ plans follow those of Birmingham council, which is currently shortlisting firms for £1.4bn of Green Deal work - bringing the total initial work
to £1.7bn.

The push from local authorities to lead on the Green Deal came as retailer Marks & Spencer’s enthusiasm for delivering the scheme appeared to be cooling. Rowland Hill, M&S corporate social responsibility manager, told Building the retailer would not be interested in providing services for the Green Deal “if it goes too far from our core business”.

The government has been keen to involve major retailers in the delivery of the scheme in order to boost its take-up and M&S had previously indicated an interest.

The new energy secretary Ed Davey has made the government’s energy efficiency programme a priority and last week launched the Energy Efficiency Deployment Office to drive the agenda.

Ministers will welcome the push from local authorities to take the lead on the programme, with councils teaming up to create schemes of sufficient scale to make them viable and attractive to private sector partners.

Newcastle council, working with a number of other authorities across the North-east, is set to issue tender documents within the next three months for £80m of work to retrofit 15,000 homes. Leeds council, in partnership with nine local authorities across the Leeds city region, is drawing up plans that could see it leverage up to £75m to start retrofit work in a market it estimates could have a total value of £3.4bn.

Across the Pennines, the 10 councils that comprise Greater Manchester are considering investing £50m in a Green Deal programme, while Nottingham council is planning an £80m Green Deal contract.

Bristol council along with a range of partners is considering investing £34.6m in a programme, while West Sussex council is preparing a business case for a scheme that could see investment in the tens of millions.

Jonathan Garrett, group head of environment at Balfour Beatty, said the Green Deal was about being able retrofit at scale and councils banding together made that more likely to happen.

“There’s a tipping point where things are going to start to kick off,” he said.