A LEADING chemical organisation has welcomed a report that suggests the North East could have a crucial role in the future of clean air technology.

The report by the Parliamentary Advisory Group said the country could save billions by investing now in the use of carbon capture and storage (CCS).

The purpose of CCS is that carbon dioxide emissions from heavy industry can be captured before entering the atmosphere and stored underground.

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Stan Higgins, chief executive of NEPIC, said the report showed the beginning of “understanding the potential” of carbon capture.

“There is real potential for this region and this region in particular - there is 20,000 years of coal for use in the Durham coal fields alone.

“Using carbon capture to turn it into a clean coal resource will provide raw materials for thousands of years.

“We can get more oil from the North Sea and the carbon dioxide can be converted into plastics, as well as used to make batteries in electric cars.

“It could become a circular economy” he added.

The report, overseen by group chairman Lord Oxburgh, suggested that Teesside in particular could have a major role to play in becoming a CCS hub.

“If we do have the system in the region, it will be the most amazing attraction for future industry” said Mr Higgins.

“We have people who understand the work and we have pipelines set up for the work to be carried out.”

NEPIC works with chemical-using industries in the North-East and supports its member organisations in petrochemicals, pharmaceuticals, and biotechnology amongst others.

Mr Higgins added that the consequences of not supporting CCS now is the North-East would fall behind the rest of the UK.

Neil Kenley, director of business investment at Tees Valley Combined Authority, previously told The Northern Echo that Lord Oxburgh’s report captures the “importance of pursuing CCS now, not later.”