Bristol’s Journey to Net-Zero: Sonya Bedford’s Role in an Internationally Significant Transition

15 January 2024

In a transformative partnership that is setting the stage for other cities to follow, Sonya Bedford of Spencer West LLP played a pivotal role in supporting Bristol City Council to secure a groundbreaking £1 billion in funding for their ambitious net-zero aspirations.  

The achievement, which saw the council launch a 20-year partnership with US energy firm Amaresco and Swedish energy business Vattenfall, marks a significant milestone in Bristol’s journey to become the first city in the UK to decarbonize its entire estate.   

Sonya Bedford provided invaluable legal guidance throughout the complex City Leap Procurement project, advising the council on legal matters, assessing social value and technical matters, as well as evaluating the bids from potential partners. She was successful in helping to secure funding through the procurement process from some of the biggest names in international energy.  

The investment has been secured to fund the council’s drive to achieve its carbon targets by 2030. More than £400 million of the funding will be invested in infrastructure in the first few years, aiming to reduce Bristol’s carbon footprint by 140,000 tonnes. Further projects planned include the expansion of the head network, which aims to improve access to low-carbon heat from sustainable sources for homes and businesses, as well as a new £1.5m Community Energy Development Fund for local communities.  

As part of the deal, members of the council’s energy team, one of the largest in the UK, transitioned to the joint venture, Bristol City Leap. This collaboration is set to yield substantial carbon savings, enable new renewable energy projects, and enhance energy efficiency in both the council’s social housing estate and its commercial estate.  

Sonya Bedford’s instrumental role in this influential deal has been pivotal in advancing Bristol’s journey toward net-zero sustainability. Her dedication to bringing the community into the fold, ensuring that the citizens of Bristol not only reap the benefits of carbon savings but also job creation and skill development, has made this project a distinguished example of innovation, collaboration, and environmental stewardship.  

Sonya says of the project “this is an internationally significant deal and it’s a great feeling to have helped Bristol take the next step in its net-zero journey”.  

Kye Dudd, cabinet member for the environment, ecology, energy & waste, said: “the partnership has secured the funding, knowledge, and resources to usher in a period of extraordinary innovation, investment, and growth to accelerate our progress in reducing carbon emissions and tackling the climate emergency.” 


Sonya Bedford MBE
Partner– Energy
Sonya Bedford is a Partner Solicitor at Spencer West. She specialises in all forms of renewable energy technology; the funding of renewable energy projects; and sustainable development.