CHESHIRE East Council’s drive to tackle climate change could soon receive a welcome financial boost – thanks to the European Union.

Britain might be due to leave the EU on October 31, but CEC and the Cheshire and Warrington Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) will access a £20 million fund from it, some of which could be used to support schemes to develop renewable sources.

The new urban development fund will provide loans to support investment in property development for companies focusing on research and innovation excellence, including in relation to the green economy.

It is proposed that £8 million, the largest portion, would be allocated for eco-initiatives such as the production and distribution of renewable sources, £7 million for research and innovation and the remainder for developments relating to entrepreneurship, new firms and incubator business.

Craig Browne, Cheshire East Council deputy leader, said: “It is a known fact that important property development projects for start-ups and innovators can fall on stony ground, simply because entrepreneurs cannot access the financing they require.

“The council is pleased to be asked to act as an accountable body and take on the role as entrusted entity for this fund. It will enable the local enterprise partnership to evaluate and assist those developers supporting innovation and green businesses.”

Working with the LEP, the council will act as ‘guarantor’ for the fund, to be administered by the enterprise partnership across the Cheshire and Warrington sub-region.

Cheshire East Council’s cabinet previously approved the setting up of an urban development fund and now cabinet has delegated authority for establishing all legal requirements and agreements.

Although much of the administration work will be carried out by the LEP, only a local authority can access the fund under its rules of governance.

Philip Cox, chief executive of the LEP, said: “The Cheshire sub-region has a wealth of talented entrepreneurs and innovators and the urban development fund will act as a catalyst and incentive for those businesses and start-ups to develop their projects with confidence, knowing they can access the necessary funding for the building they require.”

The new urban development fund will build on the success of the £12.1 million Growing Places Fund, which has made six loans to businesses, four of which have already been repaid.