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  • Britain's Leading Edge

We've launched our 2023 Manifesto!

Today Britain’s Leading Edge has launched our new manifesto, at an online event hosted by the think-tank Localis. We were joined by panel speakers Cllr Linda Taylor, leader of Cornwall Council; Cllr Kevin Bentley, leader of Essex County Council and Chair of the Local Government Association’s People and Places Board; and Kerry Booth, Chief Executive designate of the Rural Services Network.


The Manifesto identifies opportunities for Britain’s Leading Edge and sets out six commitments.


Opportunities

We can power the UK! Peripheral regions of the UK are the energy powerhouses of tomorrow, with our rich natural capital capable of producing clean, reliable, renewable energy for the entire country. In 2020, Britain’s Leading Edge areas generated over 99,000 megawatt hours of renewable energy, compared to just under 23,000 megawatt hours from the rest of England. As international supply problems drive higher energy prices in the UK, while the climate crisis intensifies, we must move away from our reliance on imported hydrocarbons – Britain’s Leading Edge can help do this, working with the new Department for Energy Security and Net Zero.


We are the lungs of the UK! Residents of rural parts of the country are custodians of the natural public spaces that proved so vital to physical and mental health and wellbeing during lockdowns – and which are continuing to produce mental health benefits going forwards. We generate eight times fewer carbon emissions than the rest of England, and play a vital role in taking carbon out of the air and safely storing it.


We can help feed the UK! Increasing Britain’s food supply chain resilience will be even more critical in years to come, as geo-political disruption continues, and greater effects of climate change are felt. The UK imported 46% of its food in 2020, and Britain’s Leading Edge areas can help provide better domestic supply. Much of the UK’s food and drink sector is based within Britain’s Leading Edge areas, as is a significant proportion of the UK’s agriculture, fishing and forestry businesses.


We have the potential to provide even more energy, more carbon storage and more food, with the right level of support.


Commitments

As predominantly rural local authorities away from the centre of the UK, we know partnership working is vital if we are to convince Government to provide the meaningful support we need to improve skills, infrastructure and productivity. So together, we commit to:


• Continuing to advocate for moving focus and investment beyond the policy corridor, which still affects so much of central Government policy.

• Pressing for all parts of the UK to be truly levelled up, so that rural areas perform as well as metropolitan areas do with reference to the 12 Levelling Up Missions.

• Helping Government deliver on its promise that the UK will be net carbon zero by 2050. Britain’s Leading Edge regions contain the clean energy capacity which will power this commitment.

• Building UK energy and food resilience, particularly in the light of ongoing geo-political developments.

• Advocating for fairer Government investment in research, development and the vital connectivity infrastructure that peripheral areas need to unlock our potential for growth. particularly in food production, clean energy, sustainable transport and digital.

• And finally, championing Government recognition for the extra costs involved in providing reliable, high-quality public services in peripheral areas, and pressing for fair funding to drive innovation in service delivery.


You can read the new Manifesto on our Publications page and we would love to hear what you think – as always, please get in touch at britainsleadingedge@cornwall.gov.uk .

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