Sustainability will define our success at Cardiff Capital Region.
It’s a foundation stone on which we are being built – one of the four strategic goals that frame everything we do.
Look at what we have already done (and look at what we are about to do) across green infrastructure, low carbon transport, bottom-up challenge funds and future proofed talent pipelines – and you will see the United Nation’s Strategic Sustainable Development Goals embedded in our many programmes and investments.
Those UN goals of generating sustainable growth through infrastructure and innovation, jobs and skills, health and wellbeing – and putting in place the partnerships to make all this happen – are the guiding principles for governments, organisations and communities across the planet.
And here in Southeast Wales, those goals are shaping every CCR activity, to build the strongest of futures on sustainable success – meeting the needs of the 1.5 million people who live in our region, without compromising the world as a friend for future generations.
Investment to power a green and growing economy …
Our £36.4 million commitment to transforming the old Aberthaw Power Station into a centre of renewable energy, zero-carbon manufacture, green job creation and protected bio-diverse nature reserve brings together the UN’s four main strands of sustainability – human, social, economic and ecological – demonstrating the deep drive for sustainability that runs through both the CCR Economic & Industrial Plan and the CCR Energy Strategy.
Aberthaw opens up the potential of ‘Planet & People’-friendly giga-plant facilities capable of powering a whole digital economy in the region – and it’s an exciting thought that a booming digital economy will be enhanced by CCR’s Cyber Innovation Hub, because without world-standard cybersecurity we cannot achieve our vision for a digital economy that powers sustainability, innovation, inclusivity and connectivity.
Rest assured, our £7 million investment in the Cyber Innovation Hub will radically increase the number of cyber security businesses in CCR – growing our cyber talent pool, cultivating our appetite for startups, attracting further inward investment and bringing together a critical mass that can meet any cybersecurity challenge, for the fastest-growing digital economy outside London.
Digital connectivity is key to a sustainable and prosperous modern society, and our vision extends to a Digital National Accelerator that can fully harness the potential of a region where over 70% of UK Government data is held in entities such as IPO, ONS and Companies House – opening up the tantalising prospect of making Southeast Wales a centre of insight, foresight and intelligent techniques, developing skills ladders for data science, software engineering and AI, to drive a sustainable economy, sustainable employment and sustainable success for every business, community and individual in our region.
“Creating sustainable infrastructure is all about joining up many different dimensions – and we’re now beginning to see the results of our wide-ranging interventions and investments, on a variety of fronts. Much has been done – and there’s much, much more to come.”
Rob O’Dwyer, Head of Infrastructure, Cardiff Capital Region.
Connecting people, businesses and communities to a sustainable future …
For the past five years, CCR has been on a journey to create a sustainable transport infrastructure that will connect communities, cut carbon emissions and make travel easier and more affordable across South Wales – supporting our race to zero by joining-up and integrating on a scale never seen before, opening opportunities for everyone to enjoy everything that our region has to offer.
Our Metro Plus and Metro Central programmes are potentially transformational in their own right – and beyond those major programmes, as part of our initial £3 million investment in an Ultra Low Electric Vehicle (ULEV) Transformation, we have introduced a ULEV Taxi programme, with 44 100%-electric and wheelchair accessible vehicles available to taxi drivers on a “Try Before You Buy” scheme, supported by an infrastructure of 34 dual chargers at 31 sites – already saving 13.5 tonnes of CO2 (equivalent to the carbon consumption of 80 trees) since the first charger became operational in October 2021.
We’re also helping drive the Welsh Government EV Charging Strategy – delivering 798 public use charge points over the next two years through our partnership with Connected Kerb – and looking to enhance on-street and workplace parking across our region, through our bid submission to the Office for Zero Emission Vehicles, which aims to create an initial 199 sites serving those residential areas without any access to off-street parking, as part of a wider On Street Residential Charge Point Scheme.
These pioneering programmes – together with further innovations currently under consideration, such as an Electric Vehicle Car Club Scheme – will change the way people travel and connect across Southeast Wales, forever: creating a sustainable transport system fit for the 21st century and beyond, stretching from Monmouthshire to Bridgend, from the valleys to the coast.
“We have already covered so much ground in pursuing our vision for green and sustainable transport infrastructure. The best is yet to come – with the next few years completing our Metro networks, progressing our Passenger Rail vision and driving our ULEV strategy, putting in place an increasingly decarbonised road and rail transport system that will help deliver sustainable prosperity for all communities across the region.”
Clare Cameron, Transport Development Officer.
Challenge Funds that build resilient futures from within our communities …
‘Levelling-up’ couldn’t be more important to build a sustainable foundation for our region – but if we’re to overcome our challenges and build a genuinely sustainable future, top-down funding needs to engage with bottom-up innovation and grass roots ingenuity.
Our pioneering Challenge Funds are designed to bring together those forces for good – engaging and involving the whole of our region to provide self-sufficient solutions to some of our biggest challenges.
Our very latest Challenge Fund project – the £2.6 million sustainable food challenge – is encouraging innovative thinking and new practices in producing and supplying locally grown food, looking to identify and support projects that can harness the potential of land, technology and people to increase sustainable food production: helping us reshape a future that is currently threatened by climate change, biodiversity loss, a cost-of-living crisis and an increase in diet-related illness.
The challenge being addressed is a perfect example of CCR’s #SustainabilityInAction – looking to generate positive economic, social and environmental impacts at ground level, by supplying nutritious locally-grown food at a fair price for producers, with the long term aim of protecting and enhancing the wellbeing of future generations.
“Our Challenge Funds are founded on – and for – sustainability. They’re about galvanising collective endeavour for the greater good – giving people and enterprises the power and influence to provide answers to some of the biggest questions we face as a society and a species.”
Kellie Beirne, CEO, Cardiff Capital Region.
Sustainable skillsets for a resilient SME-led economy …
CCR is at the heart of building a strong SME-led economy on sustainable skills, resilient talent pipelines and better jobs closer to home.
When we reach those milestones, Southeast Wales will enjoy the confidence which comes from having a sustainable ‘core’ that continually feeds future prosperity and cultivates a healthy society. The foundations for such a future is already being built by the CCR Regional Skills Partnership, which analyses the economic challenges and plans for the likely skills needs for our future workforce – and our very own Venture Skills & Talent hub, which supports a number of programmes to help employers and potential employees ‘find their future.’
The goal? To create the sustainable skills ladders, accessible learning and inclusive training pathways that realise the potential of all our people, throughout their working lives – providing our businesses with the human capital they need for sustained success in an ever-changing world.
That joined-up thinking is driving our investment in priority sector enterprises such as Creo Medical and Human Data Sciences, helping them expand their expertise and recruit the skills they need to continue their growth as market-leaders on a global scale – and it’s a key reason why we continually champion outstanding startups and scaleups such as MeOmics and Glucose Republic: companies of ‘tomorrow’ who have the vision and credibility to become employers of the high-value skills that will benefit everyone in the CCR by increasing the GVA of the whole of our region.
“The future is there for us to create, if we employ intelligent planning, careful nurturing and continual development across a wide range of core skills. When we achieve that, we will enjoy a competitive advantage as a region empowered to continually adapt and ‘win’ for everyone.”
Rowena O’Sullivan, Skills & Talent Lead, CCR Venture.
The CCR partnerships fueling a transition to Green Energy
We’re reshaping a region where 50% of total energy consumption will be met by renewable sources, including solar and wind, by 2035. That rapid programme of change includes a domestic energy retrofit to eradicate the high-level of fuel poverty and below-average energy efficiency in our housing stock – all informed by a wraparound survey which assesses and prioritises the projects (such as the pioneering hybrid heating system Freedom Project being piloted in Bridgend) that can be developed at scale and pace.
This energy revolution is happening with ambition and speed across our region, through an ethos of partner working that’s accelerating the journey to Net Zero goals.
And what partnerships they are!
The CCR-supported CSA Catapult – the state-of-the-art innovation centre based at the compound semiconductor campus at Newport’s Imperial Park – is spearheading the UK’s transition to renewable energy and vehicle electrification.
The South Wales Industrial Cluster (SWIC) is leading the move to hydrogen, with Deployment and Cluster Plan projects that will produce Blue and Green Hydrogen at high volume in various locations across Southeast Wales.
And that new world of sustainable energy will soon be appearing over the horizon, with Wales & West Utilities already transitioning large parts of their network, laying hydrogen pipes that will be operational within the next five years.
With our journey towards sustainability well under way, we’ll be exploring some of the more extraordinary examples of CCR #SustainabilityInAction in our next few features – starting with the world-first green gamechanger beginning to breathe life at Aberthaw …