A pioneering North East company which creates cutting-edge green technology is urging businesses across County Durham to have their say on consultation that will shape the area’s economic future.
Solar power firm Power Roll has created an ultra-thin solar film which can generate and store electricity, producing green power up to 20 times more cheaply than traditional solar technologies.
The company’s solar film manufacturing facility at Jade Business Park in Murton, near Seaham, is the first in the world to produce low cost, lightweight, flexible solar film using patented micro grove technology. The pilot manufacturing facility will produce next generation solar solutions to support the transition towards a sustainable energy system.
As a company that is driving green energy solutions, Power Rolls feels it’s crucial that businesses across County Durham have their say on a three-month long consultation to help shape the economic future of the county.
Durham County Council is inviting over half a million business people and residents across the county to give their views on issues which matter to them most.
Covering everything from jobs, wages, education and climate change to health, housing, transport and levelling up, the strategy will become a comprehensive, inclusive plan for County Durham. This will help the county to achieve its ambitious growth and secure further investment and support from regional and national, private and public sector organisations.
Neil Spann, Chief Executive at Power Roll, said: “Every business is different and has different needs, in order to create a strategy that’s inclusive we need a range of opinions and regional representation. Where we are based in north County Durham may have completely different views of those in the south, so representation is important.
“If people don’t participate, their feedback can’t be used to drive change. Businesses should get involved and have their say to create a strategy which is mutually beneficial for us all.
“We’ve just hit a major milestone at Power Roll as we opened our pilot manufacturing facility at Jade Business Park. Our new base has allowed us to scale up operations and commercialise our innovative technology, and we couldn’t have done this without access to funding such as the County Durham Growth Fund. One of the main issues for businesses like Power Roll is just that and investment is key. In order for businesses to thrive and scale up in the county, there needs to be clear access to funding, maximising capabilities and investment.
“Another big issue for us is climate change. As a renewable energy company, we feel this is an important matter that needs to be addressed across all businesses. As a county, we need to be more progressive in our green offering, from creating business parks with sustainability in mind to the provision of EV charging points. We need a clear business model and economic strategy which supports the green agenda.
“Transport is another critical point and workplaces need to be built with public transport in mind, so people in County Durham can get to and from work without needing access to a car. Transport links are important, and something that needs to be addressed in the economic strategy.
“I also feel we need to be more strategic to create hubs and centres of excellence in the region. Businesses need somewhere to grow with good infrastructure, so the availability of good quality industrial office space is important. We have good links with the likes of Durham University and CPI, but a more holistic approach is needed when welcoming new businesses to the county.
“Ultimately, representation is important, and businesses should get involved with the big econ-versation to create the very best possible outcome for all.”
Cllr Elizabeth Scott, Cabinet member for economy and partnerships at Durham County Council, said: “We urge businesses of all shapes and sizes from across all parts of the county to get involved and join our big econ-versation. It’s important that businesses have their say on a wide range of important issues and help us to create a new and ambitious Inclusive Economic Strategy.
“It’s vital that that businesses and organisations from across the private and public sectors in the county work as closely as possible to ensure a mutually beneficial successful economy for our collective, long-term future.”
The economic strategy for the future will harness the county’s strengths and address areas for improvement. Shaped by residents and businesses, the strategy will become a comprehensive, inclusive plan to help County Durham achieve its growth ambitions. It will also enable the county to secure further investment and support from regional and national private and public sector organisations until 2023.
County Durham is already a major economic force in the North East, with 533,100 residents, supporting 174,000 jobs in 14,565 businesses. It contributes £9 billion to the regional economy each year. With a rich and vibrant cultural scene, Durham has been longlisted for the title of UK City of Culture 2025.
People will be able to give their views in response to questions around the themes of people, places, prosperity and planet. The deadline for views and comments is 5pm on Friday 22 April.