The story began in 2004 when a local community partnership, including Local Authorities, under the banner of CRed (the Community Carbon Reduction Programme) which then had its headquarters at UEA responded to an invitation from the Regional Development Agency to bid in a competition for a regional landmark. The prize would be in the form of funding to undertake feasibility studies.
The partnership’s bid was for a development on the Utilities Site which included low carbon energy generation, low carbon living and working, low carbon innovation, and a place to visit to learn and understand about energy, climate and the environment.
The proposed landmark on the Utilities Site was then called the Star of the East. The bid did not win the competition; in fact the whole idea of a regional landmark fizzled out. However, the idea had generated a lot of enthusiasm locally, to the extent that local supporters persuaded CRed and UEA to see if it might be possible to eventually realise the project’s vision of enhancing the sustainability of the city at the same time as providing a boost to the local economy.
This the UEA did by pulling together a group of people and organisations with the necessary expertise and resources to turn the vision into reality. After much hard work, the point has been reached where the vision is realisable. A decade since its genesis, the project has materialised under a new name – Generation Park Norwich – but including still the same essential joined-up elements to help transform both a derelict site and plot the way to a more sustainable future.
It was a good idea first time round and it’s an even better idea now because of a growing recognition that the UK needs more community-based energy schemes to provide energy security and resilience. Both National Grid and the big energy companies have warned that the nation’s electricity generating capacity is too low to be able to guarantee supply during cold snaps in winter.
It is also a better idea 10 years on, because we now have a deeper understanding of the challenges that continuing climate change presents. Furthermore E.ON’s involvement has presented the opportunity to provide a district heating scheme in Norwich.
Generation Park Norwich will contribute to a new dawn of understanding of energy issues and how we can strike a balance between society’s need for power and respect for the environment.
Norfolk Chamber of Commerce
"A sustainable energy supply is essential to enable the business community to have the confidence to invest in their own businesses to provide new and retain jobs. We feel that this is a very innovative and exciting project and look forward to its development. It is an example of how partnership between public, private and academia can produce something outstanding which will provide a boost of the local economy as well as provide a new education source. The fact that this project is being developed here in Norwich will be of significant benefit to assisting the area’s visibility both regionally, nationally and globally. "