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Thermal insulation demand 'could generate growth' in the Marches

Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) across the Marches could create thousands of jobs installing thermal insulation under the Green Deal.

Work for the government scheme - which was launched in October - is due to get underway in January and is seeking to supply UK homeowners and businesses with power-efficient measures.

Upgrades such as renewable energy boiler installations, double glazing and better heating controls are then paid for via charges that are added to a property's energy bills.

At the Marches Environmental Technologies Network Conference, SMEs were informed that the initiative could bring about significant growth in the region's green economy, including as many as 10,000 employment opportunities.

Mark Pembleton of Shropshire Council's economic development team announced firms in Herefordshire, Shropshire and Telford and Wrekin that are part of the Marches Local Enterprise Partnership union would be among those to benefit.

"We believe that the Green Deal is not just about supply chain, jobs, training and skills but about people's health, better planning and improving housing stock," he told an audience of tradespeople.

According to Mr Pembleton, up to 100,000 homeowners in rural areas could receive help with updating old and draughty properties, some of which are currently off the gas grid.

Conference attendees were also told the workers who are hired to fit the renewable technologies - which include loft and cavity wall insulation - are crucial to the success of the Green Deal and their own company achievement.

Patricia Head, project manager at metnet - the partnership between the Herefordshire, Worcestershire, Shropshire and Telford and Wrekin councils - stated the event provided ample advice for SMEs on how they can become involved in the government scheme.

She added: "The Green Deal will not only have an important environmental impact, but it should also encourage growth in the environmental sector with business opportunities particularly for tradespeople."

Workers likely to receive these advantages include plumbers, electricians and heating engineers, as well as companies offering environmental consultancy, energy-saving lighting and thermal insulation.

Posted by Rachel Jenkins