Councillor Bill Dixon says work must be increased to bring process to Tees Valley

The Northern Echo: Prime Minister David Cameron, pictured at the Tetley factory, in Eaglescliffe, near Stockton, during the Tees Valley City Deal announcement Prime Minister David Cameron, pictured at the Tetley factory, in Eaglescliffe, near Stockton, during the Tees Valley City Deal announcement

THE North-East must use its City Deal status to accelerate revolutionary work on industrial emissions and stay ahead of global competitors, a business leader has said.

The Government's decision to devolve powers to the Tees Valley is expected to support 3,500 new jobs and attract £38m private investment.

But the deal, agreed with council leaders and Tees Valley Unlimited (TVU) local enterprise partnership, is also seen as a key component in galvanising the region as a pioneer in carbon capture and storage (CCS), which would use energy from Tees Valley's industries to heat businesses, homes, hospitals and council buildings.

If a team of engineers can prove it works, it will be the first of its kind in the UK, and one of only a handful worldwide.

Process industry bosses say the system will allow larger CO2 producers, such as fertiliser makers and steel companies, to capture and store emissions, which could be collected and used in other industries, such as advanced oil recovery.

However, Councillor Bill Dixon, TVU deputy chairman, says action must be swift to stop the region falling behind global rivals, including competitors in the Netherlands.

He said: “There has been an awful lot of talking, and we know that the Dutch have made significant progress with CCS.

“There is a real fear that we are being left behind by Government inaction, and this isn't just about the creation of new jobs but the safeguarding of existing ones.

“When we submitted the CCS plans, we would have been one of the first in the world, but it looks to me like we are now two years behind Rotterdam.

“We must make that ground up by identifying where we need to move forward.

“We know what needs to be done, and are not asking the Government for alterations to tax.

“All we are saying is we need to get started to safeguard the future of current jobs.”

The Government's support for CCS was welcomed by The North-East Process Industry Cluster (Nepic).

Its created the Process Industry Carbon Capture and Storage Initiative (PICCSI) to lobby ministers on considering Teesside as a base for CCS based on its industrial needs, rather than just for power generation.

Dr Stan Higgins, Nepic chief executive, said: “Other competing locations in Europe have already begun such work to secure their industries.

“However, this announcement should tell the global chemical and renewables industry that Teesside is here for the long-term and our Government supports this industry’s future.

“The system would have two major impacts; it would stop companies moving abroad where carbon taxes are lower, and will be a significant lure for future process industry investment.”

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