Did you Know?

The North-east’s process industry currently pumps almost £9bn into the UK economy every year - that figure is set to rise by a further £5bn in the next five to ten years.


• The North-east’s process industry currently pumps almost £9bn into the UK economy every year - that figure is set to rise by a further £5bn in the next five to ten years.

• The North-east’s process industry employs 34,000 people directly and impacts indirectly on the income of a further 280,000.

• The region’s process industry dates back to Roman times, when lead was smelted and mined in the Dales, alum for fixing dyes was extracted from the Cleveland Hills and salt was panned at Greatham.

• The Wilton International chemical complex is more than 50 years old. In July 1949 ICI’s plastics division’s became the first operational plant. Today the site is still going strong - it is home to 5,000 staff, eight major companies, more than 80 contractors and produces chemicals for products we use day in, day out.

• The Wilton International chemical complex covers 2,000 acres - equivalent to 1,300 football pitches. It also has 60 miles of private road, 400 miles of electric cable and 150 miles of pipe work.

• The North-east is home to almost two-thirds of the UK’s petrochemicals industry and 35% of the UK’s pharmaceutical industry.

• In the last four years the process industry has seen around £1.5bn of investment - including six new pharmaceutical plants, two major biofuels investments and several chemical plant upgrades. This investment has created 2,000 jobs.

• The process industry is the UK’s highest exporter at £31.8bn with the North-east region being amongst the largest contributors.

• Tees Valley is home to the UK’s second largest port - Teesport. The port is 70% occupied by process industry goods.

• As the region’s process industry expands, so does the demand for new recruits. About 20,000 jobs could be created in the sector in the next few years. And the industry currently also needs 1,000 new apprentices.

• Teesside is home to the world's first environmentally-friendly fuel cell powered lighthouse. The historic South Gare lighthouse at the mouth of the River Tees leads to one of the busiest ports in the UK and was thought too exposed to use a fuel cell. But the Centre for Process Innovation, based at Wilton on Teesside, has worked with its partners to develop the innovation, which can operate in some of harshest weather conditions. The South Gare site is regularly lashed by high winds and rough seas but the lighthouse, built in 1884, plays a pivotal role in the success of Teesport, one of the UK's three busiest ports. The fuel cell does not emit any greenhouse gases.

• A relaxing soak in the bath could be thanks to Teesside's process industry. Lucite International's Cassel Works at Billingham is the world's second largest producer of methacrylates which goes into making plastic for baths, sinks and signs.

• The Teesside GasPort at Teesport is the only facility of its type in the world where liquified natural gas is converted back to vapour on board a ship, and transferred directly into the National Transmission System. LNG travels thousands of miles to be delivered on Teesside, coming from areas including Trinidad and Nigeria. Each ship carries enough fuel to heat 60,000 homes for a full year.

• Grateful chocolate lovers should give thanks to Billingham-based Johnson Matthey Catalysts for its development of the catalyst which makes chocolate melt in your mouth and not in your hand. Catalysts are materials used to speed up chemical reactions.

• Footballs used to be made of leather with a rubber bladder. In wet weather the ball would absorb water making it heavy - so heading the ball was dangerous. Modern footballs are made of a plastic - polyurethane - which is less absorbent and much lighter, leading to a safer, faster modern game. This modern material is made on Teesside thanks to Huntsman Polyurethanes's plant at Wilton.

• Next time you take a sip from a bottle of water, think about Tees Valley's process industry. Polyester manufacturer Advansa at Wilton produces polyester resins (PET), which are used for products including plastic bottles for water and soft drinks. • Environmentally friendly fuel is being produced in Middlesbrough thanks to the process industry. D1 Oils now has five refineries up and running.

• Pharmaceutical giant GlaxoSmithKline has a manufacturing base at Barnard Castle. The global company sees more than 1,100 prescriptions written for its products every minute. Developing a new medicine costs more than $500 million and takes in excess of 12 years.

• Stockton firm Cleveland Biotech is a pioneer of biomass engineering in the region's process industry. The company breeds bacteria, which are used to destroy wastes such as fat, petrol and ammonia. It has developed a mobile bacterial activation unit, suitable for use by water companies, schools, hotels and caravan parks.

• Lundbeck Pharmaceuticals, which has a base at Seal Sands, is a developer of medication for the treatment of diseases of the central nervous system. These include disorders such as depression, schizophrenia, Alzheimer's and Parkinson's disease.

• Teesside firm Ensus is spearheading a £250m bioethanol facility at Wilton. The plant will have an annual production capacity of more than 400 million litres. Production is expected in early 2009.

• A million travellers a year can now find out more about Tees Valley's process industry. The North East process Industries Cluster and Durham Tees Valley Airport have joined forces to attract investment into the region with two advertising boards which have been placed in the arrivals hall at the airport which will be viewed by a million passengers who pass through each year.

• Carbon dioxide is a by-product at Wilton-based Air Products's hydrogen plant. The firm is a key supplier to the drinks industry, which needs liquid CO2 to put the fizz into lagers and soft drinks. The liquified gas is also used in water treatment and in commercial greenhouses to promote the growth of tomatoes.

• A £12m tomato facility, built by Humberside fruit and veg firm John Baarda at Billingham, is using by-products of carbon dioxide, electricity and steam from nearby chemical firm GrowHow UK to aid the year-round cultivation of 7,000 tonnes of the fruit. Teesside tomatoes are now being sold in supermarkets across the UK.

• Elementis Chromium in Eaglescliffe produces chromic oxide, which is used to manufacture metallurgical grade chrome alloys for use in jet turbines and pigments for ceramics.

• Stokesley-based Vireol is helping power the region's growing biofuels industry. It has plans for two 150,000 tonnes-a-year ethanol plants on Teesside and Yorkshire - an investment of £300m.

• Lycra is the man-made elastane fibre which makes modern clothes flexible and fit better. It is manufactured by Invista, which has a base at Wilton.

• Teessider Jane Atkinson, who works for SempCorp Utilities UK at Wilton, has been crowned the UK's top woman in manufacturing in the Confederation of British Industry's First Women Awards. The 35-year-old is assistant vicepresident (manufacturing and operations) for SempCorp and is in charge of 161 people in operations at the 197 megawatt Wilton Power Station which supplies steam and electricity to the site's international chemical companies.


David Whetstone
Culture Editor
Graeme Whitfield
Business Editor
Mark Douglas
Newcastle United Editor
Stuart Rayner
Sports Writer