Platform. The everyday portal for sharing knowledge and intelligence on sustainability across Greater Manchester.


A Certain Future: Steering Group report

Steering Group Report, 25th July 2013

The headline act for the meeting was the new chair (elect), Gavin Elliot. First coming to college in Manchester in 1982, Gavin’s worked in the city ever since and now lives in South Manchester and has three daughters. He is the director of BDP’s Manchester Studio and is an architect, urbanist and masterplanner. He described himself last night as being “on a steep learning curve” but really excited about the new role.

The meeting (in the newly refurbished and much lower carbon Town Hall extension) included the main Steering Group session and a smaller pre-meet more tightly focused on the new Manchester: A Certain Future (MACF) thematic sub-groups.

Designed to match the themes of the new, updated MACF plan, the sub-groups cover Energy, Buildings, Transport, Green and Blue Spaces, and Sustainable Consumption and Production. They each have their own chair (barring Transport, which is still vacant) and their brief is to bring an annual, in-depth report on progress back to the main Steering Group. The objective then is to weave these five sequential report backs into the sixth meeting of the year which would be the full annual review.

Each of the new chairs is adopting a slightly different approach but had progress to report.


Gudrun Cartwright told the meeting that she’d started, with the help of the Manchester City Council Environmental Strategy Team, to map out all the activities that are happening under her slightly sprawling and all-encompassing theme. There is also a plan to connect the work of this sub-group directly to the work being carried out following a wider ‘Steady State’ discussion that’s been going on at the city council’s Economic Scrutiny Committee. Gudrun also wants to connect her theme (which covers everything from business to waste, food and behaviour change) to the University of Manchester’s Sustainable Consumption Institute.


Damian Burton reported that his group’s focus would be on renewables, energy generation and heat networks with aim to making significant progress in an area that needs to see (across the wider Greater Manchester) our renewable energy generation increase 20-fold by 2020 if we are to keep our carbon targets on track. Currently Damian is in planning mode with co-members Dave Coleman and Vin Sumner and the first focus will be on a critical review of Manchester City Council’s (MCC) own energy plan. Damian also flagged up that there’d be a crossover with the work of the Buildings group.

Green & Blue

Steve Merridew had already done a full presentation to the last Steering Group but updated the meeting. With a baseline review of green and blue spaces underway, the next full meeting of the G&B group will be on 6th August with MCC’s Dave Barlow. Steve is looking to recruit quickly from beyond the MACF Steering Group, including getting a specialist on ecological restoration on board.

Under the Green & Blue sub group update Jonathan Sadler from MCC also reported back that Manchester’s down to the last two in bidding to stage the International Society for Ecological Restoration’s keynote event in 2015, up against a city in Brazil. This would be a major conference with 1,500 or more delegates.


Brian Morris told the meeting that his sub-group, which he was still in the process of pulling together, benefitted from the fact that in 2012 he and two other Steering Group members put a significant effort into a review on non-domestic retrofit, meaning there was some good momentum established. The Buildings group will be pursuing a few key themes including putting continue pressure on the commercial sector to begin a retrofit programme in earnest, a planned exhibition of low carbon buildings technologies at some point, and a review of skills provision and training, particularly around low carbon engineering skills.


Steve Connor told the group that he and Paul Beckett had three potential candidates to take on the Transport Group and that Steve had an outstanding action to contact them and discuss whether they’d be willing to take the role on.


Nigel Rose presented a paper on future funding options for MACF and the Steering Group. The central idea behind Nigel’s paper is that in the future MACF would seek to work through a series of partnerships with other organisation where MACF would give ‘added value’ but where partners could secure the resources needed to deliver in any particular area. It was decided to try some pilot projects using this approach as quickly as possible, to ensure that MACF is future-proofed against the point in the near future where the modest, existing MCC support may be cut back.

MACF Conference planning

The conference for 2014 has been set for the first week in March, on Thursday 6th, during National Climate Week. The venue is to be decided but a number of low carbon exemplars were discussed including the refurbished Town Hall. A conference group will be convened with Gavin Elliot agreeing to take a lead.

Other stuff

The Steering Group also discussed its proposed Carbon Literacy training programme, the arrival of the ‘British Energy Challenge’ event in Manchester in September, and also greeted Catriona Pickering from Action for Sustainable Living, who will be delivering organisational support for the Steering Group following a competitive tendering process run by Manchester City Council; the group gave official thanks to Kate Morley from Groundwork who did a great job supporting MACF over the last 2-3 years.

The Steering Group’s next meeting is planned for 19th September, venue to be arranged.