A new institute aims to turn the Thames Gateway into an environmentally friendly region

The government’s announcement in last year’s Thames Gateway Delivery Plan that the Thames Gateway would become the UK’s first eco-region offers significant opportunities for east London.

The influential Stern Review calculated that the market for low-carbon technologies could be worth up to $500 billion by 2050 and identified two key actions, essential to reduce climate change and add value to the global economy:

•? ? ? ? At least double support for energy research and development across the globe

•? ? ? ? Increase support for the deployment of low carbon technologies by up to five times

Eco region

Establishing the Thames Gateway as an eco-region, not only ensures that it will play a key role in helping the UK to tackle climate change, but also provides an economic driver to secure the future prosperity of the region. The Thames Gateway Institute for Sustainability, launched this week, is central to this aim and will act as a magnet for inward investment, a driver of innovation and catalyst for regeneration.

Unprecedented levels of redevelopment and investment in infrastructure taking place in east London are providing growth opportunities and making it a more attractive place to work and do business. The creation of an eco-region involves capitalising on these significant growth plans to increase jobs in the environmental technologies sector, investing in infrastructure development to support sustainable transport solutions and the using technology across the Thames Gateway to create a showcase of best practice in sustainability.

East London boasts a large proportion of London’s available commercial land, providing an ideal opportunity for development. What’s more, this area is already home to a healthy base of environmental technology businesses, as well as industries such as waste processing and sewage works. While traditionally this area has been seen as the dumping ground of London, these industries are now seen to offer significant potential to improve our environmental credentials and create hubs of expertise in a growing sector.

Traditionally this area has been seen as the dumping ground of London, but these industries offer significant potential to improve our environmental credentials

Institute for Sustainability

The Thames Gateway Institute for Sustainability is a public/private partnership driven by the private sector’s need for near-to-market collaborative research in sustainable technologies and business models for the built environment. In the next three years it will deliver a new £40 million research centre in Dagenham and provide over £10 million of support to bring forward practical research and demonstration projects that help with the delivery of the Thames Gateway. The Institute brings together leading businesses and academics to undertake research, provide demonstrations and share best practice in living sustainably. Already involved are organisations such as Arup, HSBC, Jones Lang Lasalle and ProLogis, together with world-renowned universities such as University College London, Kings College and University of East London. From the public sector SEEDA, the London Development Agency and London Thames Gateway Development Corporation are providing the Institute with seed funding and links in to the major developments in the Thames Gateway.

Green businesses

The Dagenham facility will be built using best practice in sustainable construction and will be based at the Sustainable Industries Park (SIP) at Dagenham Dock – the UK’s largest concentration of green industries and technologies. The Institute will provide occupants of the SIP with a unique opportunity to access world-class research and share in the knowledge creation at the centre of excellence.

The SIP itself is a £100 million initiative that LTGDC is bringing forward in partnership with the London Development Agency on 60 acres of brownfield land. It will host businesses delivering waste to energy projects, combined heat and power schemes, recycling and reprocessing facilities, and renewable energy technologies.

LTGDC has already invested £19 million in the SIP and has committed a further £27.5 million. Providing 83,000sq m of commercial space and an estimated1,500 skilled jobs, it will be a driving force in the regeneration of east London.

Commercial space at the SIP will be built to the highest environmental standards, using recycled materials wherever possible. It will be powered and heated via waste to energy facilities and work has already begun on upgrading utilities and infrastructure.

When fully operational, vehicle movements will be kept to a minimum by using the local wharf facility as well as developing synergies between site occupants, using end products and waste from one facility as the supply material to another.

Unqiue recycler

Closed Loop London is the first occupier of the SIP and launched its operation in June 2008. It is the world’s first recycling plant capable of handling both PET and HDPE from plastic bottles. The plant is capable of reprocessing over 35,000 tonnes per annum into food grade packaging material for clients including Coca Cola and Marks and Spencer. This project alone has already created over 60 new employment opportunities and represents £12 million of investment, demonstrating that the eco-region offers huge employment opportunities and significant growth potential.