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Support all levels of the economy

Dagenham may not be the smartest area, but it is a shining beacon for the best in the UK waste industry - and its London Sustainable Industries Park is an exemplar beyond our shores.

A week ago, I was an impressed guest at the official opening of TEG’s anaerobic digestion and in-vessel composting facility by business secretary Vince Cable. He rightly highlighted the role in it of the Green Investment Bank, the establishment of which the prime minister has said is one of his proudest achievements.

One of the guests I met was a Qatari businessman looking to see how his country could benefit from British know-how.

It reminded me of the recent call from the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) for Government and EU support to help the UK boost its share of growing emerging markets - opportunities explored in the first of Tom Kenning’s two-part analysis.

The CBI’s chief policy director Katja Hall said at the time she wanted to see ministers “championing this important economic sector” ( Cable certainly did that at Dagenham because he recognised that the work of Teg and other park ‘residents’ such as Closed Loop is internationally important.

At the other end of the economic scale, it would be helpful if ministers acted on a plea from those representing the 9,000 parish and town councils in the UK. The National Association of Local Councils (NALC) has called for a simple amendment to the Deregulation Bill to allow these lowest-tier authorities to sell electricity produced locally to the grid.

NALC said that at least 5,000 community groups have undertaken energy initiatives in the past five years, and argues that ‘commercial’ powers for parishes could result in a dramatic increase in sustainable sources of energy.

Ministers can play a part at all levels of the economy.

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