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17.08.05
Region's Firms Profit From Green Business Advice

More than 500 businesses across South West England are set to benefit from a project designed to help them save money and increase sales by becoming more environmentally friendly. A funding boost of £2.42 million has been given to the EnVision project, which aims to increase business productivity and competitiveness by helping small and medium-sized companies tackle resource efficiencies. Companies taking part in the project receive tailored advice from a business mentor and training on how to cut costs by reducing their use of energy, heating, water and waste, thus freeing up money to re-invest in the business.

Guidance on applying for environmental business grants, tax relief and the knock-on effects of changing national and international legislation is also available, as is advice on how companies can market their new environmental credentials and tap into the new businesses opportunities provided by the growing eco-products market, which is estimated to be worth £30 billion in the UK.

The funding boost will allow the project to extend its services into the Objective One area of Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly and continue its work in the Objective Two areas of Plymouth, Devon, Torbay, Somerset and Bristol. The South West of England Regional Development Agency (RDA) has invested £456,766 in the project, with £1,135,000 coming from European funding, £100,000 from Devon County Council and the remainder of the funding coming from the Environment Agency, businesses and charities.

Claire Gibson, South West RDA head of planning, transport and the environment, said: "South West England is well known for its stunning environment which also plays a very important role in the region's economy. This is a great project that provides businesses with a mentor to help them navigate all the environmental legislation and advice that currently exists. This project proves that it is possible to look after the environment and remain competitive at the same time."

EnVision was set up in 2002 and has already helped 255 businesses in South West England save over £1.5 million. It is estimated that in three years it will create more than 140 jobs and generate almost £7.4 million of extra sales for 565 small and medium-sized businesses. Since 2002, the EnVision project has reduced carbon dioxide emissions by 12,500 tonnes, equivalent to the annual use of 2000 households, and saved 18,500 tonnes of waste from landfill equivalent to 2,600 dustbin lorry loads. Thanks to the funding boost it is estimated that EnVision will save businesses a further 22,600 tonnes of waste, equivalent to 3,100 dustbin lorry loads, and 27,727 tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions, equivalent to the annual use of 4,400 households.

Garry Elderbrand, performance review and evaluation manager at Government Office South West, said: "In the current round of structural fund support, the environment is one of the themes that cuts across all programmes and potential projects are encouraged to consider how they can contribute to all aspects of sustainability. This project is a prime example of how to encourage both economic activity and environmental sustainability and will assist in achieving the aims and objectives of the EU programmes currently operating in South West England."

Sue Smith, Devon County Council's Head of Economic Development and Regeneration said: "Devon is keen to support economic and environmentally sustainable businesses. EnVision has already proved that Devon's businesses can save money and at the same time protect the high quality natural landscape and I am pleased to see the initiative continue. EnVision's work will boost the county's economy by over £3 million and supports our strategy for the growth of more environmentally driven products and services."

Mark Hodgson from EnVision, said: "EnVision's approach of assessing the companies' needs and then working with them over 5 days to focus on what they see as the opportunities, means we deliver business led results. Over the last 3 years we've shown through this approach that business can save money, grow the local economy and improve their environmental impact, which is good for people, places and profits. With the environmental technology products market growing fast, now is the time business can really take advantage of the opportunities."

Pete Grigorey from the Environment Agency, which is leading the EnVision project, said: "Business activities impact on the environment, although many don't realise how much. Projects like this help businesses to improve their environmental performance by addressing activities that can have a negative effect. There are many benefits these days for businesses who act responsibly toward the environment – EnVision will help companies realise these benefits."

The South West RDA is actively considering ways of rolling a similar business mentoring service out across the whole of South West England. EnVision has close links with the regional Business Link network, which will introduce companies to the project. Any business interested in finding out more about Envision should contact 0845 456 9350 or email save@swenvision.org.uk.

For further information please contact Rachel Price of the South West Regional Development Agency on 01392 229548 or email: rachel.price@southwestrda.org.uk.

The Objective One Programme for Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly has invested in EnVision Cornwall through the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF).

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Editor's notes:

The South West of England Regional Development Agency was established in 1999. Our most important role is to ensure the long term economic success of the region, by promoting the right skills among its workforce, the most innovative businesses, and a high quality environment.

Envision – Since 2002 the EnVision partnership of independent environmental support organisations has improved businesses economic and environmental performance in South West England. It provides Environmental Business Support and advice on a wide range of sustainability areas, waste, water, transport, energy, building, including training, workshops and funding advice. EnVision partnership consists of Global Action Plan, nVolve, Groundwork Devon and Cornwall, Plymouth College of Further Education, Community Energy Plus, ReZolve Kernow, Cornwall Business School and Environment Agency. It is supported by Devon County Council, South West of England Regional Development Agency and GOSW EU Objective 1 & 2 funding.

The Objective 1 Programme, administered by GOSW, tackles three strategic aims: increasing absolute prosperity; creating and promoting sustainable communities; and protecting and enhancing environmental, cultural and economic opportunities in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly. Three funds are administered under Objective 1 - the European Social Fund, European Agricultural Guidance and Guarantee Fund and European Regional Development Fund. The programme runs from 2000 to 2006 and is worth £300 million. With match funding from other sources the total new investment is expected to be around £800 million.

Objective 2 is for areas experiencing structural economic difficulties. In the South West this covers large parts of Devon, West Somerset and parts of Bristol. The overall aim of the programme is to improve prosperity and create a quality of life to match the best in Europe. The programme's main objectives are to increase incomes; increase opportunities for individuals, businesses and communities; widen access to employment; create and support sustainable communities and to protect and enhance environmental assets. The programme runs from 2000 to 2006 and is worth £133 million. Total investment with match funding is expected to be around £307 million.

Contacts:

Rachel Price, South West RDA press office on 01392 229548
Email: rachel.price@southwestrda.org.uk

Mark Hodgson Envision on 01392 383033
Email: mark.hodgson@swenvision.org.uk

South West Environment Agency press office on 01392 442008

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Clare Morgan
Media Relations Manager
Objective One Partnership Office
Castle House
Pydar Street
Truro TR1 2UD
Mobile: 07973 813647
Telephone: 01872 223439

cmorgan@cornwall.gov.uk

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