Gateshead College, UK, has established a new company—Zero Carbon Futures—to deliver a range of local and national programs to advance the region as a European leader in the production of low-carbon vehicles. This follows the college’s £6.2-million (US$9.7-million) Regional Growth Fund bid to create 5,000 jobs over the next decade, including 1,500 apprenticeships in the low-carbon vehicle sector.
With the closure of the regional development agency One North East now imminent (March 2012), Gateshead College will take over some of the responsibility for driving the North East’s low-carbon vehicle agenda. Zero Carbon Futures will work in partnership with the new Local Enterprise Partnerships and a range of local stakeholders.
Part of its remit is to oversee the conversion of the former Nissan test track adjacent to SASMI, into the North of England’s first Performance Track. The creation of this track is the last element in an offering in the region for the low-carbon vehicle sector. North East England is home to the Nissan LEAF production facility and battery assembly plant. Gateshead College provides training and learning in all key areas of the sector and the region is a leader in the Government’s Plugged in Places program of installing public access electric vehicle (EV) charging posts.
Alongside Zero Carbon Futures is also the transfer of the Plugged in Places project from One North East to Gateshead College. The project, named Charge Your Car, aims to install over 1,000 electric vehicle (EV) charging points across the region by 2013. This intends to encourage adoption of EVs and capture data on how early adopters use and charge their vehicles.
Zero Carbon Futures is led by Dr Colin Herron who is a Visiting Professor of Engineering at Sunderland University and was a key member of the RDA’s low carbon vehicle team.