Leaders urge action on low-carbon economy

Senior industrialists have met with politicians, urging support for UK-plc or face losing out on major green opportunities

Senior industrialists met with local MPs at a business meeting at Wilton
Senior industrialists met with local MPs at a business meeting at Wilton

Senior industrialists have met with politicians, urging support for UK-plc or face losing out on major green opportunities.

Representatives from a host of businesses met at Wilton-based North East of England Process Industry Cluster (NEPIC), to tell MPs that we must be bolder and speed up timetables if we are to turn significant potential into reality.

The discussion had been called to inform and involve regional MPs – including Ian Swales (Redcar), Iain Wright (Hartlepool), Alex Cunningham (Stockton North), Andy McDonald (Middlesbrough) – in plans to seek further investment for the region, while also driving forward the low-carbon economy.

Significant investments have already been made regionally within the renewables sector, in areas including fuels, heat, electricity and waste separation, but NEPIC believe there is still more work to done.

John Brady, who heads up NEPICs Bioresources & Renewables Division (NEBR), said: “The North East region has delivered a number of low-carbon projects to date.

“The next critical step is to turn the significant potential we have in the region to reality through a range of technologies such as gasification, pyrolysis and UK ‘game changers’ such as carbon capture and storage (CCS).

“However, in order to deliver some of this potential, we must address issues surrounding the provision of feedstocks, access to finance and a stable, consistent policy regime.”

Industrial representatives from a range of companies were at the meeting, including Air Products, AV Dawson, BOC, Green Investment Bank, Lotte Chemical UK, MGT Power, National Non-Food Crop Centre, Five Quarter, PCF Solutions, PD Ports, Pyreco, Simon Storage and Tees Valley Unlimited. The potential low-carbon investment portfolio stands at £4.7bn and has the ability to generate more than 6,000 direct and in-direct jobs collectively, and the industrialists said such opportunity must be seized.

But in order for opportunity to be available we must continue to support our companies, both in the Tees Valley and UK-plc as a whole, or we will lose them and in turn lose the opportunity.

Local MPs present at the meeting recognised the potential this sector provides but heard also of some problematic areas such as inconsistent and unstable policies and at times accessing finance.

Middlesbrough MP, Andy McDonald said: “It is clear many opportunities exist for growth which in turn will help tackle climate change and reduce CO2. There is a need for
long-term vision and co-ordination of this activity.”

NEPIC chief executive, Dr Stan Higgins, said: “It is part of the NEPIC growth strategy to act as ‘Voice for the Process Sector’ and we do our best to inform stakeholders about the issues that impact on the growth of our industry.

“Our local MPs have a vital role to play in our efforts to grow and rejuvenate the sector here in North East England. Firstly, we need their overt support as this is observable on the international stage.

“Secondly, we need them to understand the impact of current and future regulation, and thirdly – and perhaps most importantly – we need our MPs to help us to create a level playing field in terms of the regulatory and taxation burden and energy pricing with other European locations.

“These are hugely important issues. If we have the courage and tenacity to address them, then I believe we have the innovative and productive business ideas that would make the UK the powerhouse of manufacturing that it once was.”

The low-carbon economy will be further debated during the NEPIC Parliamentary Dinner tomorrow at Westminster.

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