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

Member Article

The industrial message is lucid. Support UK-plc or risk losing major green opportunities.

The industrial message is lucid. Support UK-plc or risk losing major green opportunities. Let’s not think ‘if only’!“ We must be bolder, speed-up the timetables and turn significant potential into reality.

These were the words and themes of senior industrialists as they met with local MPs at a business meeting held today (Friday 29 November 2013) at Wilton.

The meeting, including MPs Ian Swales (Redcar), Iain Wright (Hartlepool), Alex Cunningham (Stockton North), Andy McDonald (Middlesbrough) and facilitated by industry-cluster NEPIC, had the clear objective of informing and involving regional MPs in its plans to seek further investment for the region, whilst at the same time, helping to drive forward low carbon economy.

The Northeast as a region has already seen a number of very significant investments in renewables in areas including fuels, heat, electricity and waste separation. However, whilst the figures are notable - with such investment totalling a staggering ~£1.5 billion in just 10 years - there is still more work to done.

John Brady – who heads up NEPICs Bioresources & Renewables Division (NEBR) - addressed the meeting stating: “The Northeast 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).

He continued: “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.”

Present at the meeting a number of industrial representatives from companies 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 ~£4.7 billion and has the ability to generate more than 6,000 direct and in-direct jobs collectively – and the message from industrialists was clear and concise – it is about opportunity.

However, 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. Neil Kenley, Director of Business Development at Tees Valley Unlimited, backed this point referring particularly to CCS saying: “Industrial CCS is an available technology which can significantly reduce carbon emissions and help decarbonise supply chains across the UK. In respect of Teesside, it will help attract additional investment as one of only a few global locations where companies can access the necessary infrastructure”.

Local MPs present at the meeting recognised the enormous 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: “In listening carefully to what our senior industrialists had to say this morning, 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 CEO, Dr Stan Higgins, remarked on the importance in Industry-Government connections:

“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 Northeast 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.”

In summing up, Jerry Hopkinson, PD Ports who chairs the NEBR group said “The profound impact on the region of a low carbon economy is self-evident. It will result in many new businesses generating long term jobs and prosperity, but bringing these opportunities to a fruitful conclusion is complex and, at times, a frustrating and difficult process hampered by opaque regulation and a lack of consistent Government policy.

“We need to harness the determination of business working in conjunction with our local MPs to help provide frameworks in which low carbon projects can flourish.

“Today’s meeting with its positive discussion is a further step forward to this end.

The low carbon economy together with other topics including energy intensive industries, supply chain development and skills will be further debated during the NEPIC Parliamentary Dinner on Wednesday 4th December at Westminster.

This was posted in Bdaily's Members' News section by NEPIC .

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