In late 2016 Bristol Energy Cooperative, Foot Anstey LLP and SLR Consulting brought together about 100 people and organisations: renewables developers, community groups, the four West of England local authorities, transport providers, food growers, education, arts, financers, lawyers, IT specialists, PR companies, and other interested parties.
They argued that if the West of England region is to go zero carbon quickly we need to work faster, in a more joined-up way, to complete low-carbon projects on a far greater scale than at present. They listed three main blockers to this happening:
1. A general unawareness (both institutionally and publicly) of the amazing recent advances in renewable energy technologies, and their falling costs.
2. Vested interests in the fossil fuel industry.
3. A lack of effective collaboration between the sectors already working regionally on the zero carbon challenge – local authorities, the private sector and the community.
And they pitched a new collaboration, harnessing the combined resources in the room, to:
- Map out a zero-carbon future for the region.
- Engage decision-makers on how it can be implemented.
- Influence zero-carbon policy at national and regional level.
- Oppose fossil fuel interests.
- Enthuse the public to join our zero carbon journey.
The reaction to the pitch that day was positive, and offers of help were made. A steering group was formed to take the idea to others and get more feedback.
Other working groups were formed to get going immediately on practical activity: data modelling, infrastructure project developmentand public engagement.
In April 2018 Zero West was incorporated as a Community Interest Company. It’s aligned with the Zero Carbon Britain model, and supports actions around energy, transport, food, the built environment, and the arts.