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Cleantech cluster plans unveiled for West London

Former energy secretary Lord Barker wants to see West London emulate the tech success of east London and San Francisco's Silicon Valley.

Former energy secretary Lord Barker wants to see West London emulate the tech success of east London and San Francisco's Silicon Valley.

Plans for a ‘Cleantech cluster’ to be developed in west London have been unveiled as part of a report from the London Sustainable Development Commission (LSDC).

The report recommends that the next mayor of London use the Old Oak and Park Royal development to create a business district for new low-carbon industries to reflect the tech industry success of east London.

Speaking at a London environmental event hosted by the Aldersgate Group earlier this month, LSDC chair Lord Barker said he wanted to create “the greatest concentration of green innovation anywhere on the planet outside the west coast of America.”

The area covered by Old Oak and Park Royal Development Corporation (OPDC) is one of Europe’s largest urban regeneration sites and the report claims it would be the most suitable location for cleantech development.

Once completed, the area will be served by both Crossrail and HS2 while Imperial College is currently developing its White City campus in the area.

“Bringing together Europe’s most innovative university and the UK’s largest urban regeneration site has the clear potential to provide a home of global significance and create a destination of choice for green entrepreneurs and innovators,” Barker added.

The ‘Cleantech Cluster’ concept has already received backing from Imperial. Prof Richard Templer, director of innovation for the Grantham Institute at Imperial College London, said the cluster would accelerate the development of the next generation of smart, low-carbon businesses.

“All the evidence shows that there are huge benefits from likeminded businesses being clustered together in one geographic area and being able to draw on centres of academic excellence,” he said.

“Imperial’s White City Campus will be able to help businesses in the acceleration phase of their development so they can quickly move from an innovative idea to an investible cleantech success story.”

However, Lord Barker, who served as energy secretary from 2010-14, has claimed the potential of the cluster will not be realised without support from the next London mayor.

"This is a singular one off chance to help shape our city and create a magnet for investment but it won't just happen on its own. It requires the next Mayor to take-up the recommendation of my commission and really drive this agenda forward and become a cheer leader for low carbon industries with a centre in west London,” he said.

The report’s recommendations have been met with approval from the current mayor’s office. Matthew Pencharz, deputy mayor for environment and energy, said: “London's thriving green economy is worth over £30 billion and will be one of the biggest global growth sectors in the 21st century. ‎We are a leading centre of innovation; with the entrepreneurs, technical ability, academia and engineering to drive the transition to a low carbon economy.

“To bring all of this together in a cluster of excellence, such as at Old Oak and Park Royal, would ensure the city is a world leader in sustainable technology and put us at the forefront in the fight against climate change.”

It has also been welcomed by Amber Rudd, who took over Barker’s former position in May. She said: “I strongly endorse the London Sustainable Development Commission’s recommendation to create a cleantech cluster in west London. London’s world-leading technology start-up cluster already rivals San Francisco and New York, and London has the potential to also become a global centre for cleantech innovation.”

The Old Oak and Park Royal Development Corporation (OPDC), which is overseeing the regeneration of the West London site, is conducting a feasibility study that will consider what support is needed for a centre of low carbon industries and employment at the UK’s biggest regeneration project across Old Oak and Park Royal.