Largest UK smart city-wide, low carbon energy system plans unveiled

Largest UK smart city-wide, low carbon energy system plans unveiled

  • Low car­bon, smart energy scheme in Peter­bor­ough aims to deliv­er a sig­ni­fic­ant drop in CO2 emis­sions by 2030, while cut­ting energy bills by up to a quarter.
  • Scheme could be rolled out to oth­er UK towns and cit­ies to help UK achieve its Net Zero ambi­tions
  • Pro­ject is being led by Peter­bor­ough City Coun­cil, whose part­ners include SSE Enter­prise, Ele­ment Energy, Cran­field Uni­ver­sity, Smarter Grid Solu­tions and Swe­co UK.

Today (23rd July 2020), sees the launch of plans for the largest smart city-wide, low car­bon energy sys­tem in the UK.

Launched at an online event, Peter­bor­ough Integ­rated Renew­ables Infra­struc­ture pro­ject (PIRI) aims to deliv­er a sig­ni­fic­ant drop in CO2 emis­sions by 2030, while cut­ting energy bills by up to a quarter. Peter­bor­ough is one of the fast­est grow­ing cit­ies in the UK and is facing a sig­ni­fic­ant increase in energy demand as the city con­tin­ues to grow.

The two-year pro­ject has been gran­ted fund­ing from UK Research and Innov­a­tion, along­side cor­por­ate invest­ment, to design a low car­bon, smart energy sys­tem for the city. The part­ner­ship includes Peter­bor­ough City Coun­cil, SSE Enter­prise, Ele­ment Energy, Cran­field Uni­ver­sity, Smarter Grid Solu­tions and Swe­co UK.

PIRI com­bines a next gen­er­a­tion heat net­work, elec­tri­city net­work and elec­tric vehicle infra­struc­ture under one smart hol­ist­ic scheme. If suc­cess­ful, the scheme could be rolled out to oth­er cit­ies and towns, to help the UK real­ise its ambi­tions of Net Zero by 2050.

The pro­ject over the next two years will deliv­er clean­er, cheap­er energy and the bene­fits of the scheme include:

  • Loc­ally pro­duced, clean­er energy and heat from waste and with ser­vices being low car­bon driv­en
  • Mul­ti-util­ity infra­struc­ture deliv­ery, mean­ing lower costs and lower bills for con­sumers
  • Integ­rated billing and ser­vice for heat, elec­tri­city and mobil­ity (such as elec­tric vehicle char­ging) so cus­tom­ers can bene­fit
  • Low car­bon tech­no­logy made avail­able at cost-effect­ive con­nec­tion cost
  • Trans­par­ent tar­iff set­ting will gen­er­ate long-term sav­ings for loc­al author­it­ies

The PIRI pro­ject brings togeth­er energy gen­er­a­tion, demand and stor­age, thereby unlock­ing effi­cien­cies not deliv­er­able under exist­ing, tra­di­tion­al energy sys­tems. It is envis­aged to be espe­cially effect­ive in areas where the elec­tri­city net­work is con­strained; as well serving as a blue­print for oth­er urb­an loc­a­tions across the UK.

Elli­ot Smith, PIRI Pro­gram­me Lead at Peter­bor­ough City Coun­cil, explains; “This is a highly innov­at­ive pro­ject — one of the most ambi­tious nation­ally and one which could become the most sig­ni­fic­ant in the UK’s trans­ition to low car­bon infra­struc­ture. For Peter­bor­ough, it has sub­stan­tial bene­fits and sup­ports the sus­tain­able growth of the city.”

Pro­fess­or Philip Longhurst, Head of the Centre for Cli­mate and Envir­on­ment Pro­tec­tion at Cran­field Uni­ver­sity, said: “For the UK to achieve its ambi­tions of Net Zero, we are going to have to do things dif­fer­ently. These plans announced today for the PIRI pro­ject show how loc­al low car­bon, smart energy sys­tems could be used across the UK for the bene­fit of both the envir­on­ment and con­sumers. At Cran­field, we pride ourselves on the prac­tic­al

applic­a­tion of our low car­bon tech­no­logy research and our close links with industry, PIRI is a fant­ast­ic example of that in action.”

Neil Kirkby, Man­aging Dir­ect­or of SSE Enter­prise, said: “SSE Enter­prise sees PIRI as a pro­gress­ive pro­ject that will show­case the poten­tial of smart urb­an energy sys­tems and help drive loc­al decar­bon­isa­tion in a com­mer­cially viable man­ner. It builds on the ‘whole sys­tem approach’ that our dis­trib­uted energy busi­ness offers; where we look to integ­rate dif­fer­ent energy ele­ments into one investable solu­tion and thereby make sav­ings for cus­tom­ers. As PIRI devel­ops we’ll be able to show how city liv­ing and regen­er­a­tion can be enhanced and we expect this pro­ject to serve as a blue­print for oth­er urb­an loc­a­tions across the UK.”

Dr Tan­ja Groth, Dir­ect­or of Urb­an Energy at Swe­co UK, said “To max­im­ise bene­fits to con­sumers and busi­nesses while address­ing the cli­mate emer­gency we need to move away from incre­ment­al improve­ments to isol­ated energy seg­ments and instead move towards trans­form­a­tion­al change to the whole energy sys­tem. PIRI is apply­ing best-prac­tice innov­a­tion in a city-scale energy regen­er­a­tion pro­ject, demon­strat­ing that this approach not only deliv­ers aggress­ive reduc­tions in car­bon but provides resi­li­ence, lowers con­sumer energy costs and provides wider soci­etal bene­fits such as improved loc­al air qual­ity, more effi­cient use of loc­al resources and stim­u­lates the loc­al eco­nomy.”

Shane Slater, Ele­ment Energy’s found­ing dir­ect­or and Smart Energy Sys­tems team lead­er, said: “Our future energy sup­ply can be clean and cost-effect­ive, but this comes with the key chal­lenge of great­er vari­ab­il­ity in renew­able energy gen­er­a­tion. Ele­ment is delighted to be part of PIRI, which will demon­strate how bal­an­cing energy sup­ply with demand from a diverse range of users of heat, trans­port, and elec­tri­city in Peter­bor­ough, across day-to-day and sea­son­al vari­ations, can deliv­er an effi­cient energy infra­struc­ture that will be clean, secure and afford­able for dec­ades to come.”

Dr Gra­ham Ault, Dir­ect­or at Smarter Grid Solu­tions, said, “Loc­ally led solu­tions to the cli­mate chal­lenge are essen­tial and the lead­er­ship and ambi­tion being shown in Peter­bor­ough is exem­plary. The design of smart, flex­ible, clean and decent­ral­ised energy sys­tems is both chal­len­ging and a great oppor­tun­ity. Our work across the UK, Europe and US is show­ing us the core role and high value of our soft­ware products for flex­ible, intel­li­gent con­trol of energy assets required in smart loc­al energy sys­tems. We wel­come the oppor­tun­ity to har­ness what we have learned about the man­age­ment, grid integ­ra­tion and mar­ket inter­con­nec­tion of dis­trib­uted energy resources and bring this to the design of the Peter­bor­ough sys­tem along­side all the pro­ject part­ners.”

Rob Saun­ders, UKRI — Chal­lenge Dir­ect­or, lead­ing the £100m ‘Prosper­ing from the Energy Revolu­tion pro­gram­me’, said, “PIRI brings togeth­er a highly ambi­tious, for­ward –ook­ing city like Peter­bor­ough, with the best innov­a­tions in Smart Energy by one of the UK’s lead­ing SMEs in this sec­tor — Smart Grid Solu­tions, with the deep net­work exper­i­ence of SSE, a com­bined know­ledge of Cran­field Uni­ver­sity and Ele­ment Energy, and the deliv­ery track record of a large organ­isa­tion like Swe­co. This pro­ject is set up really effect­ively, to be able to deliv­er this com­plex, sys­tem pro­ject.”

Circular Economy focus as Peterborough site bids to help build expanded Heathrow

Circular Economy focus as Peterborough site bids to help build expanded Heathrow


 Pic­tured (l-r): Steve Bow­yer, Chief Exec­ut­ive of Oppor­tun­ity Peter­bor­ough, John Holdi­ch, Lead­er of Peter­bor­ough City Coun­cil, Emma Gilthorpe, Exec­ut­ive Dir­ect­or of Expan­sion at Heath­row, May­or James Palmer, Cam­bridge­shire & Peter­bor­ough Com­bined Author­ity, Cllr Peter Hiller, Port­fo­lio Hold­er for Growth, Plan­ning, Hous­ing and Eco­nom­ic Devel­op­ment at Peter­bor­ough City Coun­cil.

Scroll down to see more images from the event.

  • Today (6 June 2018), May­or James Palmer and rep­res­ent­at­ives of Heath­row Air­port, will be hos­ted by Oppor­tun­ity Peter­bor­ough at the Rox­hill Peter­bor­ough Gate­way site
  • The Peter­bor­ough site is one of two from the East of England in the run­ning to help deliv­er expan­sion
  • Heath­row expan­sion is set to cre­ate up to 12,900 new jobs and gen­er­ate up to £15 bil­lion of eco­nom­ic bene­fits across the East of England

On Fri­day (6 July), Emma Gilthorpe, Exec­ut­ive Dir­ect­or of Expan­sion at Heath­row will be joined by May­or of Cam­bridge­shire and Peter­bor­ough, James Palmer, as she vis­its the Rox­hill Scheme at Gate­way Peter­bor­ough. The site is one of the two long­listed sites in the East of England. The vis­it is part of a nation­wide tour of 65 sites still in the run­ning to be off­s­ite con­struc­tion centres for Heath­row expan­sion.

Four sites across the UK will even­tu­ally be selec­ted as Heath­row logist­ics hubs. The sites will be used to pre-assemble com­pon­ents of an expan­ded Heath­row before trans­port­ing them in con­sol­id­ated loads to the air­port. Logist­ics Hubs are essen­tial in ensur­ing Heath­row expan­sion deliv­ers for the whole coun­try by spread­ing jobs, boost­ing pro­ductiv­ity and mod­ern­ising the con­struc­tion industry out­side of Lon­don and the South East.

This will be the first time rep­res­ent­at­ives from the UK’s only hub air­port have returned to East Anglia since an over­whelm­ing major­ity of MPs speak­ing on behalf of con­stitu­en­cies across the UK, aligned to dif­fer­ent parties voted to sup­port expan­sion. These sites are bid­ding to poten­tially become off-site con­struc­tion centres, giv­ing the East of England the oppor­tun­ity to help deliv­er Britain’s new run­way.

In March, Heath­row CEO John Hol­land-Kaye was joined by Brandon Lewis MP for Great Yar­mouth for vis­ited Peel Ports Great Yar­mouth. Dur­ing the vis­its, the pro­spect­ive bid­ders have the oppor­tun­ity to show­case the unique strengths of their sites.

Heath­row expan­sion is set to cre­ate up to 12,900 new jobs and deliv­er up to £15 bil­lion worth of eco­nom­ic growth for the East of England. In addi­tion to the jobs boost from the poten­tial logist­ics hub, Cross­rail ser­vices are set to reduce jour­ney times from Shen­field to Heath­row.

Last week’s par­lia­ment­ary vote on the Air­ports Nation­al Poli­cy State­ment has cleared the way for Heath­row expan­sion to become Gov­ern­ment poli­cy, mark­ing the end of the debate on the new run­way and grant­ing per­mis­sion for the project’s deliv­ery. These con­tin­ued site vis­its are just one of the ways that Heath­row is work­ing to kick start the deliv­ery of one of the UK’s largest infra­struc­ture pro­jects.


Emma Gilthorpe, Heathrow’s Exec­ut­ive Dir­ect­or of Expan­sion, said:

We’re thrilled to be back in the East of England fol­low­ing the over­whelm­ing back­ing Par­lia­ment gave Heath­row expan­sion last week. It is bril­liant to see, first-hand, the poten­tial role the region could play in deliv­er­ing Britain’s new run­way.

These hubs will ensure an expan­ded Heath­row deliv­ers for all of Bri­tain, trans­form­ing con­struc­tion across the UK and cre­at­ing a skills leg­acy for future gen­er­a­tions. When chosen, the final four sites will kick start the job cre­ation and eco­nom­ic bene­fits that expan­sion will bring. We are look­ing for­ward to meet­ing the team at Oppor­tun­ity Peter­bor­ough and see­ing what the site in Peter­bor­ough has to offer.”


James Palmer, May­or of Cam­bridge­shire and Peter­bor­ough, said:

Heath­row expan­sion is an oppor­tun­ity to boost pro­ductiv­ity and equip Brit­ish work­ers with new skills. The bil­lions of pounds of private invest­ment to fund expan­sion will deliv­er massive bene­fits all over the UK before the new run­way is even oper­a­tion­al. I am delighted that Heath­row has long­listed a site in Peter­bor­ough and we’re keen to demon­strate why our area with its thriv­ing sup­ply chain should play a part in the con­struc­tion of one of the country’s most cru­cial infra­struc­ture pro­jects.”


Chief Exec­ut­ive of Oppor­tun­ity Peter­bor­ough, Steve Bow­yer, said:

We’re delighted to be host­ing the team from Heath­row today to show­case why Peter­bor­ough would make the per­fect loc­a­tion for a logist­ics hub. As a for­ward-think­ing, future city, Peter­bor­ough has excel­lent trans­port links, gig­abit speed inter­net con­nectiv­ity and a host of suc­cess­ful world-class busi­nesses oper­at­ing across all sec­tors – par­tic­u­larly man­u­fac­tur­ing and engin­eer­ing. Add to that our fant­ast­ic tal­ent pool of skilled work­ers and our ever grow­ing Uni­ver­sity offer, and the city’s case for being a logist­ics hub loc­a­tion is very com­pel­ling indeed.

Peter­bor­ough has a strong track-record of secur­ing new invest­ment; in fact just this week the Con­struc­tion Industry Train­ing Board (CITB) has con­firmed the city is its pre­ferred loc­a­tion for its new head office. Secur­ing a Heath­row logist­ics hub would be a huge boost to the loc­al eco­nomy and test­a­ment to the city’s long­stand­ing repu­ta­tion as thriv­ing busi­ness des­tin­a­tion.”


Sites in the East of England long­listed for Heathrow’s Logist­ics Hubs: 


Pro­moter  Site Name  Site Loc­a­tion 
Oppor­tun­ity Peter­bor­ough  Rox­hill Scheme At Gate­way  Peter­bor­ough 
Peel Ports Group  Peel Ports Great Yar­mouth  Great Yar­mouth 


For more inform­a­tion vis­it: 

Boosting productivity, innovation & efficiency in the manufacturing sector

Boosting productivity, innovation & efficiency in the manufacturing sector

With the likes of Blue Plan­et shock­ing the nation and Michael Gove now eager to bring in new sus­tain­ab­il­ity legis­la­tion in the post-Brex­it era, the pub­lic mood is chan­ging. How do you ensure that your busi­ness is a sus­tain­ab­il­ity lead­er, rather than on the back foot?

For the man­u­fac­tur­ing sec­tor, the cir­cu­lar eco­nomy offers a new mod­el to rethink how products are designed and made, to truly con­nect eco­nom­ic and envir­on­ment­al gains. This means redesign­ing products so they last longer, so they can be repur­posed, reman­u­fac­tured and even shared. The cir­cu­lar eco­nomy aims to ensure mater­i­als and resources remain cir­cu­lat­ing in the eco­nomy for as long as pos­sible and at their highest value. With increas­ing interest nation­ally, as demon­strated by the inclu­sion of the cir­cu­lar eco­nomy in the UK’s Indus­tri­al Strategy White Paper as a lever to increase pro­ductiv­ity, we want to make sure loc­al busi­nesses are aware of the con­cept and provided with the tools to sup­port them shift towards more sus­tain­able oper­at­ing mod­els.

Innov­a­tion in Man­u­fac­tur­ing: the Cir­cu­lar Eco­nomy Advant­age

  • What? We’re offer­ing a free work­shop to provide an over­view of what the cir­cu­lar eco­nomy is all about, lead­ing industry prac­tices and prac­tic­al steps your busi­ness can take to become more pro­duct­ive and resource effi­cient.
  • When? 13th March 2018 9.30am – 12.30pm, Allia Future Busi­ness Centre Peter­bor­ough
  • Who’s it for? Any organ­isa­tions with­in the man­u­fac­tur­ing sec­tor, or provid­ing ser­vices for man­u­fac­tur­ing busi­nesses…. or if you’re just inter­ested in the event! Organ­isa­tions with­in Peter­bor­ough, Fen­land, South Kesteven and the wider area are wel­come to attend.

Our excit­ing line-up of guest speak­ers will be cov­er­ing the latest innov­a­tions in sus­tain­able man­u­fac­tur­ing….

Tim Devon­shire – Per­kins

Per­kins has a strong his­tory of reman­u­fac­tur­ing products, Tim will be explain­ing how this provides their cus­tom­ers with lower-cost products and deliv­ers cost sav­ings for Per­kins through the reuse of mater­i­als.  Tim will also be talk­ing about optim­ising sys­tems, max­im­ising the use of mater­i­als and resources through­out a product’s life in order to cre­ate higher qual­ity products and reduce envir­on­ment­al impact.

Owain Grif­fiths – Oak­dene Hollins & the European Reman­u­fac­tur­ing Coun­cil

 At Oak­dene Hollins, Owain works with busi­nesses to improve the sus­tain­ab­il­ity and cir­cu­lar eco­nomy per­form­ance of their products. Owain will be talk­ing about how a shift towards more sus­tain­able prac­tices can have real busi­ness bene­fits. Owain will also be provid­ing an insight into their work estab­lish­ing the European Reman­u­fac­tur­ing Coun­cil and work­ing with glob­al busi­nesses.

 Alan Howard – Insti­tu­tion of Engin­eer­ing & Tech­no­logy (IET)

Alan will be talk­ing about the IET’s recent Sus­tain­able Man­u­fac­tur­ing report, which out­lines the ambi­tion for a post-Brex­it UK to cre­ate sig­ni­fic­ant social, eco­nom­ic and envir­on­ment­al impact. Alan will be mak­ing the con­cept of sus­tain­able man­u­fac­tur­ing real to busi­nesses by provid­ing action-ori­ented steps to deliv­er tan­gible impacts for micro-busi­nesses, SMEs and lar­ger com­pan­ies.

There will also be oppor­tun­it­ies to dis­cuss the exist­ing chal­lenges your busi­ness is facing and explor­ing these with a range of experts.

To sign up to the event, please use our Event­brite page:

If you have any fur­ther ques­tions, please feel free to email

Learn more about our fantastic new features on Share Peterborough

Learn more about our fantastic new features on Share Peterborough

The excit­ing new things you can do on our shar­ing plat­form – Share Peter­bor­ough

Since the launch of the Share Peter­bor­ough plat­form in Decem­ber 2016, we’ve been con­tinu­ing to engage with loc­al organ­isa­tions, find­ing out how they’re using the site and under­stand­ing what they wish the site could do, that it doesn’t already. This has led to the devel­op­ment of three excit­ing addi­tion­al fea­tures on Share Peter­bor­ough:


  1. Cre­at­ing groups or net­works – you can now cre­ate groups on the site to exclus­ively share resources between mem­bers.
  2. Cap­tur­ing the impact of each trans­ac­tion – you can now see the pos­it­ive social, eco­nom­ic and envir­on­ment­al impact of each suc­cess­ful ‘share’ on the plat­form, from amount of waste diver­ted from land­fill to the num­ber of hours you’ve donated. You can also leave a com­ment or review after each trans­ac­tion.
  3. New user levels – you’ll now be able to show­case your com­mit­ment to shar­ing and cre­at­ing a more cir­cu­lar eco­nomy by being awar­ded a badge to reflect your level of activ­ity, from ‘New user’ to ‘Cir­cu­lar Hero’. 

All your ques­tions answered…


Groups & Net­works

What type of groups or net­works could I cre­ate?

You can cre­ate a group for a loc­al busi­ness net­work, a spe­cific geo­graph­ic area, an office build­ing, an industry sec­tor, your sup­ply chain, or even your organ­isa­tion (if you have lots of depart­ments!).

How do I cre­ate a group? How do I become part of a group? 

All you need to do is nav­ig­ate to the main menu, select ‘Groups’ and then ‘Cre­ate Group’.

Groups > Cre­ate Group



Then simply add a name, select a cat­egory and include a short descrip­tion. You also need to select wheth­er you’d like the group to be private or not. Cre­at­ing a private group means that oth­er users of the site won’t be able to see which organ­isa­tions are group mem­bers or apply to join, mem­bers will need to invite oth­er organ­isa­tions to join.

Cap­tur­ing Impacts

What’s in it for me… why should I fill out the impacts form? 

Once you’ve received or shared an item on the site, you will be dir­ec­ted to fill out a sim­ple form. Depend­ing on what’s been shared, you might be asked how much money/time this trans­ac­tion has saved you, the amount that has been diver­ted from land­fill or the amount of time you’ve donated. With the excep­tion of the amount of money that the site has saved your busi­ness, these impacts will then be imme­di­ately shown on your busi­ness pro­file, so that you can show­case the pos­it­ive envir­on­ment­al, social and eco­nom­ic impact your organ­isa­tion is hav­ing loc­ally.

With a click of a but­ton, you can then share this on your social media chan­nels!


I’ve already had a few suc­cess stor­ies, how can I make sure that the impacts of these are cap­tured?

To make sure that the impacts of pre­vi­ous suc­cess stor­ies show on your busi­ness pro­file, you’ll need to quickly fill out the impact forms. To do this, nav­ig­ate to the main menu and select ‘Our Impact’ and then ‘My Incom­plete Suc­cess Stor­ies’. Then simply fill out the short form(s) – we prom­ise it will only take a mat­ter of seconds!

User Levels

What do the user levels mean? 

The dif­fer­ent user levels relate to the num­ber of list­ings you’ve cre­ated on Share Peter­bor­ough and also the num­ber of suc­cess stor­ies you’ve had. The dif­fer­ent user levels equate to the fol­low­ing achieve­ments:

  1. New User – you’ve just registered on Share Peter­bor­ough #new­bie
  2. Change Maker – you’ve cre­ated 3 list­ings on the site. You’re start­ing to change how your organ­isa­tion does things, which is not only con­trib­ut­ing to improv­ing the resi­li­ence of your busi­ness, but also cre­at­ing a more sus­tain­able city! #beth­echange
  3. Super Sharer – you’re a shar­ing pro! You’ve had 5 suc­cess stor­ies on the site and you’re now see­ing the impact this is hav­ing on your busi­ness and the wider com­munity. #sharingis­car­ing
  4. Cir­cu­lar Hero — you’ve had an epic 20 suc­cess stor­ies on the site! You’re increas­ing the util­isa­tion of assets with­in your organ­isa­tion and mak­ing sure noth­ing goes to waste… a true inspir­a­tion to oth­er loc­al busi­nesses and con­trib­ut­ing to our ambi­tion of cre­at­ing a Cir­cu­lar City! #busi­ness­goals

How do I pro­gress to the next level? 

Keep up the good work! Make sure you’re reg­u­larly cre­at­ing list­ings on the site, and remem­ber to mark each suc­cess­ful trans­ac­tion on the site as ‘com­plete’. To check wheth­er you have any out­stand­ing suc­cess stor­ies, you can go to ‘My Impact’ > ‘My Incom­plete Suc­cess Stor­ies’.

Our tips:

  • Make sure the rest of your team know about Share Peter­bor­ough and how it can be used. The more people that know about it, the more oppor­tun­it­ies you’ll find to use it!
  • Check wheth­er you’re signed up to our weekly email digest. You can do this by check­ing your user set­tings. This will mean that you can find out about the latest items on Share Peter­bor­ough that match your busi­ness interests – and you’ll receive this every Fri­day after­noon straight to your inbox.
  • Set aside 20 mins to do a quick office de-clut­ter! You’ll be mak­ing more space in your office and also mak­ing it look smarter for when you have those unex­pec­ted vis­its. Wheth­er you find unused folders, print­ers or even out­dated pro­mo mater­i­al, you can put all of this on Share Peter­bor­ough. And even if you think no one will want it, remem­ber… one person’s waste, really is another person’s treas­ure!

Want to find out more about using the site and brush up your skills? We hold reg­u­lar work­shops, so please email to find out when the latest one is!

If you haven’t joined Share Peter­bor­ough yet, remem­ber it’s com­pletely free to do so and only takes a minute to sign up, simply click here

National award final for city’s sharing platform

National award final for city’s sharing platform

A nation­al award could be on the cards for a resource shar­ing plat­form that is help­ing organ­isa­tions across Peter­bor­ough make bet­ter use of resources and reduce waste.

Share Peter­bor­ough, which was launched last Novem­ber by the Future Peter­bor­ough pro­gram­me, is in the run­ning to win the Envir­on­ment­al Ser­vices cat­egory at the Loc­al Gov­ern­ment Chron­icle (LGC) Awards 2018.

The Future Peter­bor­ough pro­gram­me is run jointly by eco­nom­ic devel­op­ment agency Oppor­tun­ity Peter­bor­ough and Peter­bor­ough City Coun­cil. Share Peter­bor­ough is part of the programme’s work to cre­ate a Cir­cu­lar Eco­nomy in the city; redu­cing reli­ance on raw mater­i­als by keep­ing resources in the eco­nomy for as long as pos­sible. Examples include list­ing old office fur­niture free of charge, reusing or repur­pos­ing old equip­ment, like mak­ing bags from old cof­fee sacks, right through to mak­ing stale bread avail­able for brew­ing beer!

The LGC Awards are the biggest cel­eb­ra­tion of excel­lence in loc­al gov­ern­ment across the sec­tor, from health and hous­ing through to busi­ness trans­form­a­tion.

Fol­low­ing a present­a­tion to a judging pan­el in Janu­ary, the team will find out if they have won on the awards night of 21 March 2018.

Steve Bow­yer, chief exec­ut­ive of Oppor­tun­ity Peter­bor­ough said, “Share Peter­bor­ough was set up with a very clear pur­pose – to help busi­nesses use their resources more effi­ciently. There’s been fant­ast­ic engage­ment from loc­al organ­isa­tions who are now using the plat­form to make sure they make the most of their skills, products and resources.”

Getting Smarter, Going Circular: Maximising the opportunities of digital technology, innovation and collaboration

Getting Smarter, Going Circular: Maximising the opportunities of digital technology, innovation and collaboration

At last month’s ‘Found­a­tions for Innov­a­tion’ con­fer­ence organ­ised by North­ern Ireland’s Loc­al Gov­ern­ment Asso­ci­ation, I presen­ted Peterborough’s Cir­cu­lar Eco­nomy approach. The Future Peter­bor­ough team was invited to share our unique approach to imple­ment cir­cu­lar eco­nomy prin­ciples at a city scale, with loc­al author­it­ies across Ire­land. The con­fer­ence included a diverse range of speak­ers, aim­ing to explore the oppor­tun­it­ies of digit­al tech­no­logy, innov­a­tion and col­lab­or­a­tion and how coun­cils can har­ness these. The Cir­cu­lar Peter­bor­ough approach def­in­itely embraces these three levers!

Digit­al tech­no­logy, innov­a­tion and col­lab­or­a­tion are very much at the centre of cir­cu­lar eco­nomy pro­jects in Peter­bor­ough, which include:

-       The innov­at­ive online resource shar­ing plat­form for organ­isa­tions in the city (Share Peter­bor­ough) is a unique digit­al tool to facil­it­ate col­lab­or­a­tion between loc­al busi­nesses, com­munity groups and schools to make the most of the resources we have loc­ally and min­im­ise waste.

-        Allia’s new Innov­a­tion Lab provides an excit­ing maker space for entre­pren­eurs to test their ideas with­in a state-of-the-art facil­ity, which received fund­ing from the European Region­al Devel­op­ment Fund and Future Peter­bor­ough (formerly Peter­bor­ough DNA).

-       The recently estab­lished Cir­cu­lar City Cham­pi­ons scheme which brings togeth­er a dynam­ic group of organ­isa­tions pas­sion­ate about driv­ing the cir­cu­lar eco­nomy agenda for­ward.

In the ‘Get­ting smart, going cir­cu­lar’ ses­sion, I was joined by Mar­tin Doher­ty from Bel­fast City Coun­cil who dis­cussed how Bel­fast are work­ing towards devel­op­ing a cir­cu­lar eco­nomy loc­ally. High­lights from the pan­el dis­cus­sion, chaired by Andrew Cas­sells from Mid Ulster Dis­trict Coun­cil, included the import­ance of mov­ing away from a purely waste man­age­ment per­spect­ive when con­sid­er­ing the cir­cu­lar eco­nomy. When we think about a cir­cu­lar eco­nomy, waste is often at the fore­front of most people’s minds! How­ever, if we are think­ing about stuff that is deemed as ‘waste’ and how to man­age it, we have already missed out on some valu­able cir­cu­lar eco­nomy oppor­tun­it­ies. The cir­cu­lar eco­nomy aims to design out waste, so we need to go back and rethink how products, ser­vices, busi­ness mod­els and sys­tems are designed. In Peter­bor­ough, we apply this think­ing by using our 7 Rs – our prac­tic­al steps towards cre­at­ing a Cir­cu­lar City. These include Rethink; Redesign; Repur­pose, Reuse and Share; Repair; Reman­u­fac­ture; Recycle and Recov­er.

At the city level, the cir­cu­lar eco­nomy should cer­tainly stretch fur­ther than waste man­age­ment and con­sider how silos across the city can be broken down in order to rethink how resources are used and redesign sys­tems to ensure resources can remain cir­cu­lat­ing in the eco­nomy for as long as pos­sible. This requires think­ing at a stra­tegic level and enga­ging with a range of dif­fer­ent stake­hold­er to co-cre­ate innov­at­ive solu­tions.

Whil­st the speak­ers dis­cussed the oppor­tun­it­ies avail­able to those involved in devel­op­ing cir­cu­lar eco­nom­ies, ques­tions from the audi­ence focused on how to encour­age a beha­vi­our change in cit­izens so they can play a role in cre­at­ing a more cir­cu­lar eco­nomy. In my opin­ion, this needs to be a mix­ture of tar­geted cam­paigns to pro­mote a mind­set shift away from throwaway cul­ture, and top down poli­cy change to facil­it­ate wider changes. Key to this, is chan­ging how we value resources. As con­sumers, a fun­da­ment­al change is needed in how we value the products we use, food we pur­chase and even the pack­aging we dis­card. This change is needed to ensure that we make the most of what we have and take appro­pri­ate action when we have ‘fin­ished’ using the resource, wheth­er that be using items for longer, going to the effort of repair­ing a broken house­hold appli­ance rather than buy­ing a new one, tak­ing your old clothes to a char­ity shop, or recyc­ling your old phone.

One chal­lenge raised dur­ing the con­fer­ence related to how iPads and iPhones destined for land­fill could be repur­posed and reused. A del­eg­ate ques­tioned wheth­er we could give these to those that need them. Although this was not imme­di­ately recog­nised as a cir­cu­lar eco­nomy ini­ti­at­ive, it is a great example of one that could have a massive impact on people in cit­ies.

Using tech­no­logy, innov­a­tion and col­lab­or­a­tion, loc­al author­it­ies can cer­tainly drive the cir­cu­lar eco­nomy agenda for­ward and cre­ate cit­ies in which we make the most of the resources that are avail­able loc­ally.

To find out more about the Found­a­tions for Innov­a­tion con­fer­ence, take a look at the Con­fer­ence Report.

Katie Thomas,

Cir­cu­lar Eco­nomy Pro­ject Officer