A PROGRAMME to put the region at the vanguard of cleaner air technology has received European backing, bosses have revealed.

Teesside Collective says proposals to build a cross-border transportation and storage network to store CO2 from across Europe has been approved as a European Project of Common Interest (PCI).

Officials say PCI status recognises the importance of the project to the UK and Europe, and builds on Teesside Collective’s proposed Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) network plan.

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They added PCI approval means chiefs can now bid for funding from the Connecting Europe Fund to develop the project.

The CCS proposal, which aims to secure carbon dioxide from coal-fired power plants and heavy industry before storing it underground to avoid it disappearing into the atmosphere, was backed by former Prime Minister David Cameron’s Government.

But it has apparently since been shunted down a list of Whitehall priorities, despite efforts by the Teesside Collective organisation, which previously unveiled a blueprint based upon the Government sharing costs with industry to set up cleaner energy sites.

However, earlier this year, Simon Clarke, MP for Middlesbrough South and east Cleveland, met with Energy Minister Richard Harrington to discuss CCS’ North-East potential, saying he was committed to making it a reality.

He said: “We’re a step closer to realising the vision of the Teesside Collective.

“CCS represents a huge opportunity for Teesside, curbing our carbon emissions while creating thousands of jobs.

“I’m going to do all I can in Westminster to secure Government support.”

Speaking before the General Election, Teesside-born Business Secretary Greg Clark told The Northern Echo he would put plans to revive a CCS network at the forefront of his industrial strategy.