Green BELLE is an ERDF business support project aiming to support local SMEs transition to the low carbon economy through capital grants and energy advice.
Green BELLE supports eligible SMEs based within Leicester and Leicestershire to shift towards the low carbon economy.

This is accomplished through the provision of capital grants to increase energy efficiency, reduce carbon emissions and increase the uptake of renewable technology.

The project interventions contribute to a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions within the SME sector which will be measured through analysis of energy bills, which SMEs will be required to submit pre and post installation.

Green BELLE helps SMEs make the shift to the Low Carbon sector by supporting them to embrace the low carbon agenda through the provision of energy advice (online, phone, events and audits) and the provision of capital grants to support investment in standard and secondary phase retrofit works, renewable technology, energy efficient technology and processes and less carbon intensive applications.

SMEs apply for capital grants to invest in low carbon technology / solutions. SMEs may have an idea of what they wish to purchase based on previous works or recommendations, or the SME is supported to identify areas to address through the energy audit.

Green BELLE is a 3 year project and was the first to be approved in the LLEP area under PA4.

The projects outputs are to support 150 SMEs and to achieve an estimated decrease of 1944 tonnes of carbon over the lifetime of the project.

Resources needed

- Capital grant pot (matched by at 50% from SME contributions)
- Revenue costs for 3 full time staff who support SMEs, promote the project, calculate the emissions, complete ERDF claims and manage the website.
- A project website and marketing campaign - radio and word of mouth worked best.

Evidence of success

- Allocated capital grants to 98 SMEs - including support for battery storage, though primary retrofit - boilers, lighting etc were the more popular measures based on business need, payback periods and ease of installation.
- so far based on the first anniversaries of the initial installations savings of 122.2 tCO2e (as at December 2018)
- support for an extension and mentions of Green BELLE in subsequent calls
- a waiting list of over 90 SMEs waiting for a grant under a new programme

Difficulties encountered

- Quotations - for certain measures it has been relatively easy for SMEs to gain quotes for more special measures it has been difficult for SMEs to source quotes as there isn't a local supplier / installer.
- Difficult to gain energy bills from SMEs - often they are slow to submit them

Potential for learning or transfer

- SMEs are worried by rising energy costs. It remains to be one of the top two worries in the local area.
- There is little or no support for SMEs to engage with the low carbon agenda.
- A grant is a huge motivating factor to support investment in low carbon - many SMEs have received the maximum grant and match funded by nearly three times
- Brexit did not seem to affect the success of the project
- SMEs are keen to work with a local authority delivered project.
- Application / grant processes need to be simple and seamless - SMEs are deterred by long and complex bureaucratic procedures
- A two stage application - EOI to filter eligible SMEs (based on geographic location, size, sector) and then a full application helps (actual grant application with quotes)

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Main institution
Leicester City Council
Leicestershire, Rutland and Northamptonshire, United Kingdom
Start Date
November 2016
End Date
December 2019


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