Follow the Green Brick Road; Clean Up on the Journey to Emerald City: Does the Government's Latest Low Carbon Paper Really Hold the Key to the Tees Valley Becoming an Emerald City - a Beacon Green Economy? Only Time Will Tell. but Time Is Something We Don't Have a Lot of. Environment Correspondent KELLEY PRICE Reports

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"THERE'S no place like home," said Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz - and green experts from the Tees Valley would undoubtedly agree.

Nowhere else, they say, has the same magic mix of geographical location, skills and infrastructure which would win the race to capitalise on low carbon opportunities just over the horizon.

But while they applaud the sentiment behind the Government's Low Carbon Transition Plan, eco bosses believe a stronger sense of urgency is needed to propel things forward.

The Government has dubbed the paper the 'most systematic response to climate change of any major developed economy' and claims it sets the benchmark in the run up to crucial climate talks in Copenhagen this December.

But is this the Yellow Brick Road we've been waiting for? "All the plans, incentives and vision documents in the world can't put up a wind farm or make an electric car," says Chris Pywell, head of strategic economic change at One North East.

"This paper gives a real sense of direction and clarity, but we have to accelerate things now.

"There's been a lot of work to prepare the ground, now we need to turn it into widespread social behaviour and large-scale industries.

"The Tees Valley is very well placed for the shift to a low carbon economy. Policies are important, but more important is the investment we've seen in the last few weeks."

And the tangibles have been arriving thick and fast lately.

Wilton-based CPI has been handed pounds 12m towards breakthrough work in Industrial Biotechnology, including the development of second generation biofuels.

MGT Power was given the green light for its pounds 500m biomass power station at Teesport.

Nissan's pounds 200m boost to build batteries for electric cars will have positive repercussions for the Tees Valley's supply chain, as will a pounds 10m award for the New And Renewable Energy Centre's work in wave and tidal power in Blyth.

But there are concerns that the Government's masterplan suffers from an imbalance which could eventually compromise the UK's energy security.

"There is too much emphasis on offshore wind," says John Barton, projects director at Wilton's Renew.

"It's vital that we develop the technology, but only as one of a mix of measures.

"The Government's Industrial Strategy suggests that wind will make up two thirds of renewable electrical generation by 2020 and existing fossil fuel generation will continue to give the grid the stability we need. However it's widely accepted that, because of plant closures, by 2013 to 2015 we will have insufficient generation to meet demand. …


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