Low carbon growth ‘imperative’, Vince Cable tells Future South conference

Sandra Sassow of SEaB receives the David Green Award for sustainable business. With her are, from left, Sir Vince Cable and Future South board members Andy Stanford-Clark and Dr David Hutchinson.

The growth of the South’s low carbon economy must ‘remain an imperative’ despite the uncertainties of Brexit and weak sterling, a major conference on green business has heard.

Former Business Secretary Sir Vince Cable told the annual Future South event that companies and organisations needed to have environmental sustainability in mind as a long-term strategy.

Speaking to an audience of 200 businesses leaders, technologists, academics and local authority representatives, Sir Vince said: “Politicians come and go but a long-term commitment to invest in the green economy must remain an imperative whatever our government and whatever trading relationships we have. We shouldn’t be deflected from that.”

The conference, at Winchester Guildhall, brought together recipients of green growth grants, loans and other funding channelled through the Future South partnership and Greentech South, the UK’s first dedicated ‘environment and energy cluster’.

Delegates heard that around 225 jobs had been created at 130 firms in the South thanks to more than £30 million in government and private investment. In addition, Greentech South has just been accepted onto the International Cleantech Network (ICN), a worldwide collaboration of clusters involving leading energy efficient and low carbon businesses.

Dr David Hutchinson, a Future South board member and Innovation and Impact Development Manager for the University of Portsmouth, said: “Joining ICN affords Greentech South members benefits that could lead to accelerated growth and access to international companies and markets in a growing sector to which we, as the UK leader, can make a significant contribution.”

Sir Vince presented the inaugural David Green Award, named in memory of one of the founders of Future South, to Sandra Sassow, Chief Executive of SEaB Energy, a Southampton-based anaerobic digestion specialist that exports its waste-to-energy technology to Portugal and the USA.

Accepting her award, Sandra said: “The underlying core of our business is sustainability. We encourage all businesses to make a positive difference to their carbon footprint.”
Other finalists for the award were KCC, a sustainable food packaging company, the environmental consultancy ENiMS, the architecture practice HPW and Environmental Treatment Concepts, a pioneer of electronic water descaling.

Future South Chairman Stewart Dunn said: “Our fifth annual conference was an ideal chance to discuss the successes and challenges we all face in developing and growing a low carbon economy in the South. We have made a great deal of progress albeit with much more to do.”

The conference was sponsored jointly by Hampshire Chamber of Commerce, Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks, Crossprint and Bouygues UK.