Indigo Environmental Ltd
Powerhouse Perspective: Paul Rendle-Barnes
Our director of recycling, Paul Rendle-Barnes, was recently interviewed by Business Insider about the Northern Powerhouse — looking at what the initiative means to him and what his views are on the amount of progress made to date.
If you missed the original article, you can catch up below...
What does the Northern Powerhouse mean to you?
For me, the Northern Powerhouse is centred around growing our local economy. Here at Indigo, we are proud to employ local people who are highly skilled and talented. All the team help to demonstrate our innovative ideas and show our capacity to transform inputs to beneficial outputs, while maintaining a pride and passion for our roots.
Five years have passed since the phrase 'Northern Powerhouse' was first coined. Has enough happened since then?
Absolutely not! However, lots of building blocks have been laid already in the North and I’m hopeful that – in the not so distant future – we will be able to construct an environment that’s strong and prosperous upon this foundation.
How is the appointment of metro mayors starting to help the initiative?
I think their ability to provide a positive influence – and additional funding benefits – to the local population should bring tangible changes. The key to a successful Northern Powerhouse is to remove the differences between the towns and cities of the North – metro mayors are key to making this happen, but there is still a lot of work to do.
Metro mayors must also highlight the need to overcome skills shortages which threaten to hold back the growth of the region and provide skilled workers for the next generation of industries. However, to achieve this we also need to foster a greater sense of opportunity and ambition – especially among the younger generations.
What must the government do to re-energise the Northern Powerhouse?
The best place to start would be for the Government to demonstrate its ongoing support and commitment for the North – especially in these current times of economic and political uncertainty.
The North has a wealth of talent across key sectors, such as manufacturing, energy and innovative recycling solutions. These are all industries which rest upon constant adaptation to demand and strong technical expertise, and the Government should place a renewed focus on incentivising skills training and funding in these areas – as well as supporting local businesses that are driving change.
What is the single main issue you would like to see dominate the Northern Powerhouse agenda?
I’d like to see a commitment to ‘onshoring’ work – a system which recognises the value of products produced in UK. All too often, we hear about UK contracts being awarded to foreign suppliers, but what about our home country? One example of this is that UK passports are now being now produced in France.
I’m confident we have the skills and resource in the UK to become more self-sufficient and by doing that we’re getting closer – although still a way off – to achieving a closed-loop economy. It’s just a case of harnessing our expertise and using it to drive demand.
Is there enough collaboration between towns and cities across the North?
Currently, I think we could do more. I believe there should be a ‘northern union’ – so we can appreciate, communicate and ensure all regions benefit equally. At present, I think there is too much disparity between the north and south of the country – across almost all areas.
How would the success of the Northern Powerhouse agenda benefit your business?
Within the environmental sector – specifically plastic recycling – the ability to access an increased number of plastic waste streams for reprocessing, as opposed to exporting, will allow us to recruit, train and offer more permanent value to the region, without losing the commodity potential.