‘Leaving the door open’ – Chesterfield’s Property & Construction forum continues to highlight sustainability

Jillian Mitchell, Vice Chair of the Chesterfield Property and Construction Group and Director of Lomas and Mitchell Architects has penned this month’s blog on how the group is coming together to highlight the importance of sustainability across the town.

I was asked recently to deliver a 15-minute talk on ‘how to make your home more sustainable’.  It’s a pretty tall order, given the magnitude of the subject.  The first question was ‘how on earth do I cover the subject in only 15 minutes?’  Definition of the word ‘sustainable’ is wide-ranging, covering anything from saving the planet to reducing energy bills, and everything in between.

It can be overwhelming and we often feel powerless to think that anything we do can make a difference, so it is tempting to do nothing.  It doesn’t help that there is a bewildering array of measures and targets out there, quoted in impenetrable units which are hard to put into any sort of context.  Take the example of your fridge.  If you regularly leave the door of the fridge open whilst trying to decide what to make for dinner, for example, you can be wasting 50 – 120kWh/yr.  These numbers don’t mean a lot on their own, but if you understand that 50kWh/yr could run your dishwasher twenty times or 100kWh/yr the washing machine for fifty cycles, the scale and context become much more tangible.

At the heart of the issue, however, is a simple message – we must all do something to contribute to reducing our energy consumption and our dependence upon finite planet resources.  It really doesn’t matter which sector you work in – everyone can do something to make a difference.  The current energy crisis has brought all these themes into sharp focus, and now is the time to capitalise on the opportunities to look at our consumption and behaviours and commit to making a difference.

The Construction and Property Forum have identified key themes, one of which is ‘Sustainability and Quality’, because we want to highlight the need for more ambitious targets across the region.  The challenge is to shift from historical drivers, such as shareholders and regulations, and move towards the over-arching target of net-zero carbon by 2050 whilst still demonstrating profitability and compliance.  The shift needed is seismic and not to be underestimated – but we all have to do something, and we need to do it now.

The Forum seeks to support and challenge our local authorities as they strive towards these ambitious goals whilst providing exemplars of best practice for our colleagues in the sector to learn from and share.  We are keen to explore who is working on these themes in our area and welcome input from colleagues across the sector.  You can get in touch by emailing

In the meantime, maybe it’s time to not leave the fridge door open.

Jillian Mitchell is a Chartered Architect and Director at Lomas and Mitchell Architects.  Jillian is a member of the steering group of the Chesterfield Property and Construction Group and heads up the themes of  Sustainability and Quality.

Find out more at:

Chesterfield Property and Construction Group


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Funding secured for new renewable energy battery storage facility in Chesterfield

Chesterfield has been named as one of the areas to benefit from investment in a battery storage facility, adding to the town’s green growth.

Santander UK has provided a £27m funding package to 4 Renewable Energy, the independent power producer (IPP) arm of RGREEN INVEST, an independent French investment management company specialised in equity investments and financing for energy transition and climate change adaptation infrastructure projects. The funding supports construction and operations of four new-build battery storage facilities in England that 4 Renewable Energy acquired last year.

The new local facility will be based on Back Lane in Chesterfield, with facilities also being built in Rochdale, Plymoth and Bexhill on Sea.

Battery storage is key to ensuring the UK’s homes and businesses can be powered by renewable energy. It plays an important role in boosting the nation’s capability to capture, store and release renewable energy, providing a more reliable and regular supply.

Owned 100% by RGREEN INVEST’s INFRAGREEN IV fund, 4 Renewable Energy has plans to expand its UK portfolio beyond its first four battery storage facilities. It is actively pursuing additional battery storage projects under development or ready-to-build in the UK and is establishing a local team.

RGREEN INVEST’s managed entities have invested in more than 1,500 renewable energy projects to date and in large battery storage facilities in France – on the mainland and overseas. 4 Renewable Energy has wind, solar and battery storage projects under development and construction in Spain, Bulgaria, Portugal, Romania and Poland. Its portfolio of renewable energy projects totals more than 1.5 GW.

Since the start of 2019, Santander UK has committed more than £250m to the battery storage sector. This funding is part of Santander’s global target to lend €120bn in green finance to businesses throughout the world by 2025. The funding package provided to 4 Renewable Energy was partly financed by Santander UK’s Environmental and Social Growth Fund, which is designed to support lending that benefits the environment or society and contributes toward the UK’s sustainability agenda.

Sébastien Rondel, Head of Direct Investment for RGREEN INVEST and Director of 4 Renewable Energy, said: “This is our first venture into the UK market, and we are excited to be an active player. Our banking partner, Santander UK, has greatly supported this venture and is helping us pursue our strategic development abroad. Our choice of the UK is significant as the nation has made an ambitious decision to accelerate its transition to renewable energy sources, and battery systems are poised to become a key component of this strategy’s success.”

Mark Cumbo, Director, Specialised and Project Finance at Santander UK said: “We are delighted to support RGREEN INVEST’s entry into the UK renewables market with funding for the construction of its four battery storage facilities. Santander UK strongly supports clients such as RGREEN INVEST that are bringing positive environmental change to the UK’s energy sector, and we are delighted to provide funding for these new battery storage facilities throughout England.”

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Dozens of jobs to be created at Derbyshire’s first electric forecourt at Markham Vale

One of our area’s flagship regeneration sites, Markham Vale, could soon be home to a state-of-the-art Electric Vehicle (EV) charging station powered exclusively by renewable energy.

Gridserve, the tech-enabled sustainable energy business, has submitted a planning proposal application to Chesterfield Borough Council to build another of its award-winning Electric Forecourt sites at Markham Vale.

Markham Vale Electric Forecourt would be a timely addition to the Borough, more than doubling the number of chargers to meet both current and growing needs for electric car drivers in the area. The proposed site would be the first dedicated EV charging facility of its kind in the area, with 30 chargers supplied by 100% renewable energy and connectors to serve drivers of every type of EV.

The proposed location for the new Electric Forecourt is between Enterprise Way and the eastern side of Duckmanton. The site plans feature 22 high power chargers, providing up to 350kW – powerful enough to supply up to 100-miles of range in less than 10-minutes. Additionally, six AC chargers providing up to 22kW complete the plans.

The development would make a significant contribution to local electric vehicle charging infrastructure and would create 25+ full time equivalent employment opportunities through the design, engineering, construction and operation phases. Interested parties are invited to view information on the proposal here.

Gridserve CEO, Toddington Harper, said; “We are committed to delivering EV charging infrastructure that both enables the transition to net zero carbon transport, and excites drivers to make the transition to electric vehicles. The geographical distribution of EV charging across the UK is essential to usher in the mass market era of electric vehicles. This development would benefit the local community, and the wider UK as it reduces its reliance on fossil fuels. We are proud to have chosen the area of Markham Vale for this project and we hope the people across the region share our passion for delivering a cleaner, more sustainable future in the earliest possible timeframes.”

Derbyshire County Council Cabinet Member for Clean Growth and Regeneration, Councillor Tony King, said: “We welcome Gridserve’s interest in Markham Vale and, if their proposal is granted planning permission, the new Electric Forecourt, will give motorists the confidence to make the switch to an electric vehicle and move us closer to our target of helping to get 1,000 public facing electric vehicle charge points in place throughout the county by 2025.”

“Decarbonising transport is one of our top priorities as part of our climate change strategy which aims to reduce emissions generated by the county council to net-zero by 2032 or sooner and help the rest of Derbyshire reduce carbon emissions generated within the county to net zero by 2050 or sooner.”

Richard Hinds, Development Surveyor at HBD, said: “Markham Vale is one of the largest industrial and logistics schemes in the North, so it’s important that we look to the future to ensure that the right infrastructure is in place to provide motorists with clean energy. We’re very pleased to welcome Gridserve and look forward to working with the team as they bring their plans forward.”


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Custom Solar begins innovative project at Portsmouth International Port

Chesterfield-based Custom Solar has announced its latest major sustainable project at Portsmouth International Port.

The team has started to develop the installation of a ground-breaking solar and battery system at the port, managed by Portsmouth City Council’s in-house energy services team. The project began in February 2022 and will incorporate roof-mounted solar panels across a number of buildings, a large battery, and solar canopies.

When completed, the power produced by the 2,660 solar panels will contribute around 35% of the site’s power; a significant step in Portsmouth International Port’s ambition to be the UK’s first net-zero carbon port. The installation is due to complete in summer 2022.

Portsmouth is the first UK port to have solar canopies and a mega-watt sized battery installed as part of a renewable installation. When completed, the 1.2 megawatt peak system, will be the largest solar and battery installation to date across the council’s portfolio of renewable generation.

As well as generating carbon-free power, the solar canopies will provide shade for cars waiting to board ferries; allowing them to stay cooler for longer, without having to run their engines.

Image by Portsmouth International Port

The battery, with a capacity of 1.5 megawatt hours (enough to run a typical home for 4 months), will capture green power that would otherwise be exported from the site and using it in the port’s buildings when it is needed.

The new battery will work in tandem with an upcoming battery storage pilot announced in the summer; supplying balancing services to the national grid and storing power during lower pricing periods. When complete, it is estimated that 98% of the electricity consumed by the port will come from the solar and battery, combined.

Gary Sucharewycz, CEO of Custom Solar, said: “We are thrilled to be working with Portsmouth City Council in the delivery of this special project, utilising our experience in developing and delivering solar at another established British port.

“We have already broken ground and we are excited to showcase a solar rooftop, solar carport canopy, and battery storage system. We are proud to have been selected to work towards the environmental ambitions of Portsmouth International Port and look forward to delivering another major on-site project in a busy operational environment that will aid in carbon reduction goals.”

Jerry Clarke, pilot and senior project manager at Portsmouth International Port added: “The port is owned by the people of Portsmouth, so we have a duty to control and reduce the impact of port operations on the local environment.

“We’re delighted to work with the wider council and Custom Solar on this exciting project. It will significantly expand our solar generating capability, and is part of an integrated approach that will help us to offer shore power for smaller ships, without having to take extra power from the local electricity grid.

“Combined with other sustainability initiatives, it will help us achieve our ambition of becoming one of the UK’s first zero emission ports by 2050”.

Custom Solar Ltd. supports the marketing and economic growth of the town through Chesterfield Champions, a network of over 200 organisations across Chesterfield and North Derbyshire.

From L-R: Gary Sucharewycz, CEO of Custom Solar: Tony Denney, Site Manager for Custom Solar; Cabinet Member for Climate Change and the Green Recovery, Cllr Kimberly Barrett; Owen Hughes, Project Manager at Portsmouth City Council’s Energy Services Team; Andrew Waggott; Energy Services Team Manager at Portsmouth City Council.

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Chesterfield’s Robinson produces packaging for luxury Fortnum and Mason product

Robinson – the manufacturer specialising in value-added custom packaging – has partnered with Fortnum and Mason to launch their new iced fingers in store this February.

Fortnum & Mason is a leading luxury food & drink brand, providing hampers and gifts for more than 300 years.

Robinson produced two different sized boxes that have been embellished with gold blocking to add a luxury, high-end appeal. Marrying luxury with sustainability, the boxes are made from 100% post-consumer recycled paperboard and can be widely recycled once used. The packaging also includes two cushion pads to protect the iced fingers in transport and on retail shelves.

The boxes have been printed using Fortnum and Mason’s traditional and elegant eaudenil colour palette and to meet their standards Robinson carried out substrate tests to ensure the packaging exactly matched the brand requirements.

Jon Walker, NPD Director at Robinson, said: “We are thrilled to have collaborated on this project and it is exciting to see the product finally launched. Being closely located we can offer flexibility and speed of supply and are proud to be a strategic partner to Fortnum and Mason. We are looking forward to further collaborations.”

The iced fingers are exclusively available in Fortnum and Mason’s London Piccadilly store and online through their website.

If you are interested in sustainable boxes for your brand, please email

Sustainability is at the heart of everything Robinson do, following the lunch of the company’s sustainability pledge last year. The pledge outlines a range of commitments underpinned by their strategic priorities focused on putting the customer first, sustainable growth and thriving people.

Robinson supports the marketing and economic growth of the town through Chesterfield Champions, a network of over 200 organisations across Chesterfield and North Derbyshire.

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Chesterfield businesses encouraged to sign up to low carbon courses

Chesterfield businesses are being encouraged to sign up to a range of low carbon courses, which will enable organisations to prepare for the upcoming challenge of meeting sustainability targets.

The free, fully-funded programmes are being delivered locally in partnership between training firm Essential Site Skills and the Serco Skills Support for the Workforce scheme.

The courses are tailored and specialised for a range of sectors, including health and care, construction, logistics and office-based organisations. Participants will gain a level two NVQ award in understanding carbon awareness and energy management.

  • The healthcare-based course will focus on dealing with routine and non-routine waste along with the the principles of decontamination, cleaning and waste management in healthcare settings.
  • In construction, course leaders will guide participants though removing non-hazardous waste in the workplace and confirming the occupational method of work in the workplace.
  • Meanwhile logistics businesses will be able to learn about sorting goods and materials for recycling or disposal in logistics operations.
  • Businesses based in an office environment will also gain a level two certificate in understanding climate change and environmental awareness.

Catherine Storer, Executive Director at Essential Site Skills said: “We’re delighted to be working alongside the Serco Skills Support for the Workforce programme to roll out these low carbon courses to businesses across Chesterfield and North Derbyshire.

“More and more businesses are realising the importance of sustainability and environment awareness. Prepare your workforce to meet carbon emission targets with our fully funded Carbon Awareness NVQs.”

For further information, or to sign up for the carbon awareness courses, contact Serco’s Partnership Coordinator, Howard Cordingley at or call 07738894879

To find out more about the range of business support on offer here in Chesterfield, go to:

Essential Site Skills supports the marketing and economic growth of the town through Chesterfield Champions, a network of over 200 organisations across Chesterfield and North Derbyshire.

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Latest Robinson sustainable packaging is a perfect match for Valentines’ Day

A Chesterfield manufacturer specialising in value-added custom packaging has partnered up with luxury chocolate manufacturer Holdsworth, to produce sustainably packaged chocolates in time for Valentine’s Day.

A range of 160g chocolate boxes have been produced: Dark Heaven, Milk Heaven and Assorted Heaven. The packaging has been carefully crafted using 100% post-consumer recycled material and is fully recyclable. The clear viewing window is produced from recycled UK water bottles adding to the sustainable appeal.

David Sharples, Managing Director at Holdsworth Chocolates said: “Valentine’s Day is always a busy time for us. A lot of consumers buy chocolates for their loved ones and it’s so important that the packaging is recyclable and made from recycled material. We pride ourselves on delivering the experience of luxury, handmade chocolates using premium packaging with sustainable credentials; there’s no compromise.”

David continues: “Robinson is a key partner; a local, reliable supplier who produce high quality sustainable packaging that meets all our brand requirements. Being UK based helps us to reduce our carbon emissions and keep our supply chain agile and efficient.”

The boxes have been beautifully printed using six colours including intricate foil blocking, adding a striking element to the finished box making it a perfect gift for a loved one this Valentine.

Jon Walker, New Product Development Director at Robinson said: “It’s always a pleasure to work with Holdsworth. Being a local company we can be responsive and flexible to their needs, turning around their packaging from design to delivering the finished product in 2- 3 weeks.”

In 2021, Robinson launched a new sustainability pledge outlining a range of commitments underpinned by their strategic priorities, focused on putting the customer first, sustainable growth and thriving people. Find out more here.

Robinson supports the marketing and economic growth of the town through Chesterfield Champions, a network of over 200 organisations across Chesterfield and North Derbyshire.

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School pupils work towards making our town a better place

Pupils at Highfield Hall Primary School have been exploring how we can all work together to improve Chesterfield and create a more sustainable town as part of a new local democracy learning programme.

Taking place from 17 January, the children drew up ideas about how they think the local area, including the town centre and Queen’s Park, could be improved – and then had the chance to share their thoughts at a special question and answer session with Chesterfield Borough Council councillors.

Aimed at pupils aged between 6 to 11 years, the project is designed to help them think about how working together as a community can contribute to big changes for the future with a focus on sustainability. It also supports the wider curriculum including their English language skills.

Councillor Amanda Serjeant, deputy leader of Chesterfield Borough Council, said: “We are proud to be able to support this pilot project as part of our local democracy outreach work.

“This has been a fantastic opportunity for local school children to learn more about our borough and contribute their ideas as part of the curriculum. They were all really enthusiastic about the project and had some great ideas for ways we could improve our town and make it more sustainable. I look forward to reading their letters in more detail and seeing if we can introduce any of their suggestions.”

Cllr Serjeant attended the school with ward members Cllr Jill Mannion-Brunt and Cllr Tom Murphy, who accompanied the children on a visit to the town centre and answered questions the children had about the council.

The pupils had some great ideas including public water fountains, reducing in traffic in the town centre, rewarding recycling and encouraging people to walk and cycle more. They had a real interest in sustainability and this was a key discussion topic during the question-and-answer session with their local councillors.

Leader of Chesterfield Borough Council, Cllr Tricia Gilby, has created a video thanking the pupils for their efforts. The council will also consider some of the suggestions made by the children and see how they can be realised.

To come up with their ideas, the pupils used the booklet “How to make your town a better place”, developed by the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of the Council of Europe. Through this booklet, the Congress wants to help children better understand the concept of sustainability and encourage them to share their ideas with their local authority. The pupils at Highfield Hall Primary School helped pilot and test this booklet.

The teachers will now feedback to the Congress on the content of the pilot programme and make recommendations for any improvements. In March, the final learning tool will be adopted by the Congress and be made available for children to use in towns and cities from all 47 members of the Council of Europe.

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Chesterfield’s Bridge Help goes carbon neutral

Chesterfield-based Bridge Help has started 2022 as a carbon neutral organisation, offsetting the entire carbon footprint of its workforce – from their flights and car journeys to lunches and energy usage both at work and home.

In just two months the commercial bridging finance company has directly funded the planting of 508 trees across Madagascar, Kenya, Uganda and Mozambique as well as achieving a reduction in 34.44 tonnes of CO2.

Becoming carbon neutral has been made possible by Ecologi – an organisation which helps companies and individuals fund impactful climate solutions, plant trees, analyse carbon footprint, become climate positive, achieve carbon neutrality and much more.

Every member of the Bridge Help team has been registered with Ecologi and carbon credits aligned according to their lifestyle.

By signing up to Ecologi, the Bridge Help team is directly funding high-impact climate solutions and supporting the town’s ambition to become a carbon neutral borough by 2050.

Companies and organisations that have signed up to Ecologi to date have, together, funded the planting of an amazing 31,450,527 trees reducing 1,239,380 tonnes of CO2 to date in a drive to bring greenhouse gas emissions in the UK to net zero by 2050.

With its team members, brokers and borrowers based throughout England and Wales, the company was an early adopter of Zoom video conferencing technology in order to minimising travel. A number of staff members also drive electric cars.

Chris Sellars, Chief Executive of Bridge Help commented: “Prior to signing up to Ecologi, we made small steps in becoming a carbon neutral business however this has now been accelerated. What myself and the team particularly like about Ecologi, is that we are all offsetting our personal carbon output 24/7 whether we are working or not. It is something the whole team is passionate about and we’ll be taking further steps throughout 2022 and beyond to reduce our impact on the environment.

He added: “We’re a growing business and it’s important to us all that our impact on the environment does not also increase. As we welcome new members to the team, they’ll also be automatically be signed up to Ecologi.”

Despite the economic slowdown due to the pandemic, the highest ever atmospheric CO2 concentration (419 parts per million) was recorded in June 2021. With seven of the warmest years on record all occurring since 2014, the issue of climate change is increasingly pressing.

To find out more about Ecologi and how you can get involved, visit

Bridge Help supports the marketing and economic growth of the town through Chesterfield Champions, a network of over 200 organisations across Chesterfield and North Derbyshire.

Posted in About Chesterfield, Business, Celebrate Chesterfield, Development, Home, Love Chesterfield, UncategorisedTagged in , , , , , , ,

Christmas Treecycle campaign raises record £10,000 for Ashgate Hospice

Residents in North Derbyshire who recycled their tree with Ashgate Hospice this Christmas have helped raise a record of more than £10,000 towards care for families this year.

The annual charity Treecyle scheme, sponsored by Jake Eville Tree Care, saw staff and volunteers travel across the county to collect and recycle people’s trees at the end of the festive season.

Between 7th and 10th January, volunteers worked tirelessly to collect 450 Christmas trees from houses across Chesterfield, Matlock, Matlock Bath and Cromford.

Ashgate offered the service in exchange for a suggested donation of £15 per tree – and raised a total of £10,259.16 towards the charity, which provides vital palliative and end of life care to families across North Derbyshire.

Not only did supporters of the campaign help raise crucial funds towards care for patients in 2022, but each participant helped do their bit for the environment with every tree chipped and then recycled.

Carl Jones, Fundraising Manager at Ashgate Hospice, said: “We were delighted to be able to offer our Treecycle service to people in North Derbyshire at the end of the festive season.

“Our aim is to provide an easy and green way of disposing of people’s Christmas trees and it’s been great to hear lots of positive feedback about the service.

“I’d like to personally thank everyone who supported the campaign this year – whether you made a donation of £15 or £100, your support will help make a significant difference to people’s lives.

“We’re absolutely delighted to have raised more than £10,000 to help us continue our care for the families who need us most this year. Everyone at Ashgate is so grateful for your generosity – thank you!”

Among those to support the campaign was Lifehouse Church in Chesterfield, which donated £200 to the campaign after the hospice team recycled its huge tree.

Businesses across North Derbyshire came together by donating their time and resources so Ashgate could offer the service to local people.

Those who helped with the initiative included MVIS, Wickes, The Van Yard Ltd, Vertu Toyota, Perrys, Rykneld Homes, PSR Recruitment, Wards Recycling, Yorkshire Vehicle Finance, Hasland Magazine and more.

The support will mean Ashgate can continue to provide its specialist palliative and end of life care, including a wide range of community-based care and support services for people with a life-limiting illness and their families.

Jake Eville, who sponsored the initiative : “It was great to be able to support Ashgate Hospice’s Treecyle scheme this year and we were proud to be able to offer our support as campaign sponsors.

“From everyone who donated to recycle their tree to the volunteers who gave up their time to collect the trees – it’s great to see the community coming together to do their bit for a great cause and the environment.

“Not only will your donations help the hospice fund its vital care for families across the county, but it’s great way to do your bit to be green and sustainable!”

Go online to find out how you can support Ashgate Hospice, at

Alternatively, call the fundraising team on 01246 567250 between 9:00am and 5:00pm, Monday to Friday or email

Ashgate Hospice supports the marketing and economic growth of the town through Chesterfield Champions, a network of over 200 organisations across Chesterfield and North Derbyshire.

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SDE Electrical & CCG join forces to offer a one stop shop for all EV requirements

Chesterfield-based SDE Electrical has agreed a nationwide partnership with Car Charge Go to support domestic and commercial customers converting to electric vehicles.

The number of EV vehicles in the last 12 months has increased by 67%, whereas sales in petrol and diesel vehicles have fallen significantly. Battery EV uptake has doubled, but the new car market remains well adrift of pre-pandemic levels.

SDE Group says that while the demand for Electric Vehicles is at an all time high, the EV charging and infrastructure network does not currently support the uptake. The announcement of this strategic partnership will help support the gap by offering customers a complete end-to-end solution for all EV needs.

Both SDE & CCG have both secured nationwide contracts in their own fields with global companies, with SDE being a commercial EV specialist and CCG specialising in the domestic market.

Furthermore, SDE has successfully secured a contract with Gridserve for the rollout of new rapid chargers. The contract is for both installation and maintenance across the electrical highway (motor services, Ikea stores etc.) from Lands End to John o’ Groats.

This contract is set to help increase the EV infrastructure across the UK. Car Charge Go will support SDE by providing administration & technical support.

Jonathan Bennett, Managing Director of SDE Group commented: “The change in behaviors in consumers and businesses looking to convert to electric is phenomenal when you look at the numbers.

“Along with the environmental benefits and financial savings attached, key policy changes set by government and events such as COP 26 have helped create this uptake, therefore this partnership is critical to support all our customers and aid the transformation for consumer and businesses. We are looking forward to working with Kate and the team at CCG.”

SDE Group supports the marketing and economic growth of the town through Chesterfield Champions, a network of over 200 organisations across Chesterfield and North Derbyshire.


Posted in About Chesterfield, Business, Celebrate Chesterfield, Development, Featured, Home, UncategorisedTagged in , , , , , , ,

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