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Hertfordshire leaders working together to lead a ‘green recovery’

Published: 17 January 2022

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Health, education and local government leaders set out their sustainability priorities for 2022 as a part of a live debate on the future of Hertfordshire.

Delegates from across local and central government, the development and construction industry, businesses and civic organisations attended this special hour-long event to hear how Hertfordshire will lead a ‘green’ recovery and help ensure that every person can benefit from good sustainable growth.

Hertfordshire Growth Board is the way the county is now working together to manage growth. With the Hertfordshire population expected to rise by up to 175,000 by the mid-2030s, at least 100,000 new homes and jobs will need to be created over the same period to address those needs.

It is made up of the County Council, the 10 district and borough councils, the NHS Integrated Care System (ICS), Homes England and Hertfordshire Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP).

The event hosted by The Voice of Authority (TVoA) platform and sponsored by Willmott Dixon put a number of questions to its panel of experts and set out to answer:

1. What does sustainable growth actually mean?

2. How are we translating ‘green’ ideas into future ways of living and working?

Cllr Richard Roberts, Leader, Hertfordshire County Council and Chair, Hertfordshire Growth Board, said one of his main priorities for 2022 was to build on COP26 and county commitments to be carbon neutral by 2030.

“Coming out of COVID, we need to work with our residents so that they can live fulfilled and healthy lives. We have to work harder to enable as many people as possible to participate in our vibrant society. The challenge that we also face is that we have to manage future development and our resources more responsibly to reduce our carbon footprint.”

Asked if sustainable development was an oxymoron, Cllr Roberts said moving away from a carbon-heavy agenda, such as providing well-insulated homes and air-source heat pumps, could only be seen as a very positive move.

Cllr Linda Haysey, Leader, East Herts District Council, political lead for the Hertfordshire Climate Change and Sustainability Partnership, set out how the Growth Board is working with this partnership to deliver climate change action and reduce the carbon footprint with policies already in place.

The Hertfordshire Infrastructure and Development Board was also set up, she said, with the primary aim of  brokering dialogue between local authorities, investors, developers and land-owners to deliver high quality place-making.

Neil Hayes, CEO, Hertfordshire LEP, set out the work that is underway to develop a clean growth strategy and help the county to achieve its net-zero targets.

The debate then moved to two key areas focusing around health and skills development and why these are so critical to future sustainable growth.

Rt. Hon Prof. Burstow , Independent Chair at Hertfordshire and West Essex Integrated Care System (ICS), said levelling up was a very real issue with a seven year life expectancy gap across the county, and stressed the importance of the ICS working with place leaders via Hertfordshire Growth Board, businesses and education.

He said: “Over the past 19 months we have all been responding to the pandemic and the different waves and that has been a powerful driver for collaboration and innovation. Now as we enter the third year of the pandemic, from a health care perspective we have to restore services and tackle backlogs.

“The health care equation is not about simply delivering better services, it is about addressing those causes of ill health. Seeing healthy lives as a key component of economic prosperity has meant the Integrated Care System has been delighted to become a part of the Growth Board.”

Prof. Julie Newlan MBE, Pro Vice-Chancellor (Business and International Development) University of Hertfordshire, set out the pivotal role universities have to play in driving the local skills agenda and creating opportunities for the future. Hertfordshire was a ‘case study’ in partnership working with strong links between education, industry, business, local government and the LEP to deliver that agenda.

The full series is available to watch again here.