A MAJOR scheme to try to attract £400m worth of low carbon projects to the county is being launched today.

Council bosses hope the cash from investors and institutions will help cut city carbon emissions by 40 per cent by 2020.

The OxFutures initiative, which is backed by £1.2m EU funding, will launch at Said Business School.

It is being led by Oxford City Council and Oxfordshire County Council.

Cash could go on projects like solar panels and hydroelectric turbines, said the city council’s John Tanner.

He cited a hydroelectric unit at Osney Lock, Oxford, which is to use water to drive turbines to generate electricity.

The Labour councillor said: “We are entering a new world where we are serious about saving energy.

“This is a helping hand from the EU to enable Oxford to do this better.

“The city and the county council recognise the importance of creating a low carbon society and we want to work with the enthusiasm of local action groups to help bring that about.

“We have more money to invest, we can use our buildings as sites for solar panels, we can make sure planning permission doesn’t stand in the way of low carbon projects and we can act as an example to businesses in Oxfordshire.”

He pointed to last year’s closure of Didcot A Power Station after 40 years because it could not meet EU emission laws.

He said: “We have already closed one power station and the idea of burning fossil fuels to produce energy and not talking about how much energy we use, those days are rapidly ending.”

Green leaders and investors are expected to attend the conference.

They will include environmentalist Jonathon Porritt and Barbara Hammond, chief executive of the county’s renewable energy group Low Carbon Hub.

The project has already won £1.2m from Intelligent Energy Europe, under its Mobilising Local Energy Investment programme.

Barbara Hammond of Oxford’s Low Carbon Hub group, said: “The money can come from a number of sources, such as individual investors, council funds and other institutions.

“What we are hoping is that we can replace the need for Didcot A, which we lost last March, by reducing our energy demands and developing new renewable energy projects as well as getting local jobs to build a low carbon energy infrastructure.”

Dr Hammond is among those behind the Osney Lock hydro project, which raised £320,000 in 10 days by selling shares in the scheme.

When completed this year it will generate 165,500kwh of electricity a year, enough to power 50 houses.