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South Warwickshire can be a beacon for green business - Coventry and Warwickshire Chamber of Commerce

19 December 2022
The Business Magazine article image for: South Warwickshire can be a beacon for green business - Coventry and Warwickshire Chamber of Commerce

The potential of south Warwickshire to become an exemplar in how to grow and encourage green business was discussed at the latest meeting of Coventry and Warwickshire Chamber of Commerce’s South Warwickshire branch.

The branch discussed the possibilities during a meeting at Alscot Estate in Atherstone-on-Stour – where many green projects are already taking place.

Jonathan Thompson, Coventry and Warwickshire Chamber of Commerce Ambassador, explained how Alscot is looking to go carbon-neutral by 2050, and is already investing in biodiversity and green energy generation on its land.

He also highlighted the potential for sustainable businesses to potentially move to Atherstone Airfield, which has been allocated for new employment land in Stratford District’s Local Plan.

Keynote speaker Doug King, CEO of sustainable rapeseed processing firm Yelo Enterprises - which is based on the estate and was recently announced as the new owner of Coventry City Football Club – then talked about how the region and the estate fitted his business’s vision when finding a home.

He said: “Since founding Yelo in 2016, we have built the business to a point where we process around 15 per cent of the UK’s total rapeseed crop – around 160,000 tonnes – and employ 60 people in skilled jobs.

“The Alscot Estate ticked all the boxes for our investment and building our processing plant there as it has been championing sustainable projects for a long time, grasped our initiative and had leased long term existing storage infrastructure alongside the facility.”

“Building a green-field processing and refining complex with a renewable heat plant took longer than anticipated and as always more capital than initially projected.

“However, after investing approximately £75 million, our facility and its renewable energy footprint processing only UK grown oilseed rapeseed is being increasingly appreciated by our customers. The direction of travel is clear on this subject and this early investment puts us in a strong commercial position.

“Huge change is coming to the industry, and buyers are already taking into account the sustainability and provenance of their refined oil when deciding on a purchase despite inflationary pressures.

“It’s great that we have successfully launched a new major sustainable business here in south Warwickshire, and I think the region and its focus on renewable energy shows great potential for new green businesses to have similar support leading to commercial viability in the near future.”

The talks were finished off by South Warwickshire branch chair Larry Coltman, who highlighted the number of businesses passionate about sustainability already established in south Warwickshire, and the need for employment land to enable the economy to grow.

Corin Crane, Chief Executive of the Coventry and Warwickshire Chamber of Commerce, added: “The push towards net-zero is ever-increasing, so businesses with green ideas need to be able to make their dreams a success.

“South Warwickshire has real potential to host these kinds of businesses, with places like the Alscot Estate and Yelo Enterprises are already leading the way.

“And with allocations for sustainable employment land featuring prominently in Stratford District’s Local Plan, the area could soon set a national example in how to promote and attract green business, bringing great benefits to the economy and the environment.”

Peter Davison is deputy editor of The Business Magazine. He has spent his life in journalism – doing work experience in newsrooms in and around Bristol while still at school, and landing his first job on a local newspaper aged 19. By 28 he was the youngest newspaper editor in the country.

An early advocate of online news, he spent the first years of the 2000s telling his bosses that the internet posed both the biggest opportunity and greatest threat to the newspaper industry and the art of journalism. He was right on both counts.

Since 2006 he has enjoyed a career as a freelance journalist. He lives in rural Wiltshire with one wife, two children, and three cats.

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