Spencer West advises on ‘internationally significant’ £1bn funding deal to drive net zero future for Bristol

17 January 2023

A solicitor from leading alternative law firm Spencer West who supported a local authority in securing £1bn of funding to drive its net zero ambitions says the deal places Bristol in pole position to be the first in the UK to decarbonise its entire estate.

Energy sector expert Sonya Bedford said the deal, which saw the city’s council launch a 20-year partnership with US energy firm Amaresco and Swedish energy business Vattenfall, was ‘internationally significant’ and could be a guide to other cities wanting to follow suit.

The investment has been secured to fund the council’s drive to achieve its carbon targets by 2030. More than £400m of the funding will be invested in infrastructure in the first few years aiming to cut Bristol’s carbon footprint by 140,000 tonnes.

The deal signals the beginning of a joint venture between the council and New York Stock Exchange-listed Amaresco as well as the sale of the city’s heat network system to Vattenfall, the biggest investment to date by the Swedish giants in the UK.

Projects planned now investment has been secured include the expansion of the heat 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.

Members of the authority’s energy team – one of the largest in the UK – transferred to the joint venture, Bristol City Leap, upon completion of the deal this month.

Sonya, a partner at Spencer West who advised the council on legal matters, evaluation of the bids from potential partners, social value and technical matters, said she was delighted to have helped secure the funding through the procurement process, which attracted interest from some of the biggest names in international energy.

“The new joint venture will be delivering huge carbon savings for Bristol, new renewable energy projects, as well as energy efficiency across both the council’s social housing estate and also their commercial estate,” Sonya said.

“Social value is extremely important, bringing community energy into the projects, ensuring that for every £1 Spent in Bristol the citizens of Bristol would not only see the benefit of the carbon savings but also jobs and skills.

“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 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.