4. European Regional Development Fund (ERDF): case studies
i. Building low-carbon energy systems in Clydebank
West Dunbartonshire Energy Centre is home to the first large-scale heat pump of its kind in Scotland, transforming the way heat is provided to nearby homes, businesses and public buildings.
It officially opened in October 2021 and received £6.1m of funding from the ERDF-supported Low Carbon Infrastructure Transition Programme.
At full build, the system will deliver approximately 2000 tonnes of carbon reduction from the environment per year. In the initial phase of switch-on, heat is being supplied to West Dunbartonshire Council offices, the Titan Enterprise Centre, Aurora House, Clydebank Leisure Centre and the new care home at the site, Queens Quay House.
The primary heat source is two 2.65MW Water Source Heat Pumps that convert heat held within the water of the River Clyde into hot water at a temperature of 75 degrees centigrade, and two 7MW gas boilers which provide back-up and top up heat at peak times when the pumps are operating at capacity.
The low-carbon system has been designed on a modular basis to enable future expansion beyond Queens Quay, with scope to heat the Golden Jubilee Hospital, Clyde Shopping Centre and into the town centre.
The introduction of the heating network will allow residents of more than 1,000 homes due to be built on the site to enjoy lower bills with a system that requires far less upkeep than a gas boiler.
The system was also showcased to delegates at COP26 in an exhibit at the event's Green Zone, highlighting work being undertaken by the local authority to achieve net zero targets.
Thanks to ERDF support, the people of Clydebank have a ground-breaking new heating system that uses energy efficiently and helps tackle the climate emergency.
ii. Assisting businesses through COVID-19 in Aberdeenshire
Business Gateway Aberdeen City and Shire is the gateway to free expert local assistance and advice for Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) in the local area. It has been allocated £1.9m of ERDF support.
One business it has assisted is Paper Houses Design. During the COVID-19 lockdown, the textile and homeware design business launched a series of online workshops to encourage others to develop their creative skills and reap the benefits of learning a craft.
Thanks to ERDF-supported advice from Business Gateway Aberdeen City and Shire, Paper Houses Design received guidance on its business plan, company regulations, funding, premises and marketing.
As a result of the ERDF support, this led to Paper Houses Design winning funding from Creative Scotland, which helped to develop its virtual craft workshops during lockdown.
Paper Houses Design also accessed DigitalBoost services to see where its online presence could be improved. The business then accessed webinars and other resources which instilled confidence to launch the workshops.
Thanks to ERDF support, Business Gateway has been able to help businesses like Paper Houses Design to develop and grow despite a challenging COVID-affected economic landscape.
"Business Gateway has pushed me out of my comfort zone, and the team has been a pillar of support during a turbulent time. Sometimes when you work for yourself, you really need some people around you to tell you like it is, and Business Gateway has been that for me. The team signposted me to various resources and funding opportunities and really ensured I made it through the challenges of the past year." Mhairi Allan, founder of Paper Houses Design
iii. Creating greenspace from derelict land in Glasgow
Malls Mire is a £3m project (£1.23m ERDF allocation) in Glasgow's Toryglen district, delivered by Clyde Gateway in partnership with Urban Roots and Glasgow City Council, as part of NatureScot's Green Infrastructure Fund.
Malls Mire sits at the heart of North Toryglen, an area that has seen decades of transition, from local authority investment in high rise and pre-fabricated housing in the 1960s, to the decline of this housing stock and associated loss of opportunities and amenities for local residents.
Community consultations and socio-economic research identified some key issues residents were facing, including health inequality, poor-quality green space, inadequate play provision, flooding, fragmented habitats, and air and noise pollution.
To address these issues, sixteen hectares of land (five of which were on the Vacant & Derelict Land Register) have been transformed into a mixed-use park, delivering a fully connected network of green spaces, woodland, and wetlands delivering for biodiversity, amenity and surface water management, as well as community space with active travel routes, play and outdoor learning areas.
The park's success has been underlined by its 'Excellent' award from Building with Nature, the UK's only benchmark for the design and maintenance of high-quality green infrastructure.
Thanks to ERDF support, North Toryglen has a brand new high quality greenspace that will improve the local biodiversity as well as residents' physical and mental wellbeing.
"The works at Malls Mire have been the culmination a fantastic partnership with the Toryglen community and local voluntary groups who have steered this project to where it is today. The importance of quality natural spaces which are safe and accessible for physical and mental health can't be emphasised enough as we come out of the pandemic and as a key part of any long-term regeneration." Ian Manson, Chief Executive at Clyde Gateway
iv. Making smarter traffic management systems in Inverness
The Inverness Smart Mobility project is part of the broader 'Scotland's 8th City – the Smart City' Strategic Intervention, and received £696,000 of ERDF grant support. The project is jointly led by The Highland Council and Hi-Trans and will deliver various Smart Mobility initiatives.
The central element of the project is a scalable and flexible wireless mesh infrastructure that forms the backbone for future digital city services, including Intelligent Transport Systems (ITS) solutions coordinated by the Inverness Urban Traffic Management and Control (UTMC) database.
With the exception of a few junctions, there was previously no real time coordination of traffic management in Inverness city centre. Thanks to ERDF support, a new ITS wireless platform was put in place.
The ITS platform enables the implementation of smart technologies across the city's traffic signal network, improving the efficiency of each junction and making it possible for each site to host intelligent bus priority that will improve public transport journey times and help encourage modal shift.
The platform will also benefit the management of on- and off-street car parking, and help to mitigate the impact of roadworks, major events and road traffic incidents in real time. The scheme is currently in the commissioning phase prior to system integration with wider traffic strategies and systems.
This project will enable travellers to make informed transport choices in real time as well. This will be achieved by making real-time updates available to transport managers and also directly to the public through channels including a bespoke website, live information displays on-street and at public transport interchanges.
Thanks to ERDF support, the people of Inverness have a traffic management system that can respond in real time to issues and gives its managers and the public the information that they need to make effective travel decisions.
v. Boosting resource efficiency across Scotland
Zero Waste Scotland delivers the £73m ERDF-supported Resource Efficient Circular Economy accelerator. The operation promotes environmental innovation and performance management in the public and private sectors, and increases business competitiveness by increasing resource efficiency.
They assist businesses like Beauty Kitchen, an award-winning sustainable cosmetics business based in Glasgow. Its co-founder Jo Chidley contacted Zero Waste Scotland to explore new avenues and improve their products, so that they could further reduce their environmental impact.
Zero Waste Scotland carried out research, which helped Jo launch 'Return-Refill-Repeat', a service which exists to help customers, retailers and brand owners change their
single-use plastic packaging to packaging that is designed to be refillable and reused. The service works with other retail organisations, meaning that other businesses can also take advantage of the circular model.
Return-Refill-Repeat took Beauty Kitchen's commitment to the environment one step further, taking their customers on the circular journey by giving them the option to return empty packaging to be washed and reused. This closed the loop by keeping containers in use for longer, reducing demand for new packaging to be manufactured, which positively impacts the company and the customer's environmental footprint.
Thanks to ERDF support, businesses across Scotland are receiving expert advice on how to be more efficient with resources in a way that can also improve their business performance.
"We didn't introduce these sustainable practices to gain a competitive advantage, it's a vehicle to instigate change across the sector – we want other businesses to get involved." Jo Chidley, co-founder of Beauty Kitchen