THE time has come to turn a Teesside low carbon economy ambition into a reality, an MP has said.

Andy McDonald says the area must “steal a march” on rivals to secure investment and create new jobs.

Mr McDonald, MP for Middlesbrough, was speaking after the Tees Valley Combined Authority (TVCA) and North-East Process Industry Cluster (Nepic) confirmed on Thursday that they are developing a strategy aimed at taking advantage of the area’s industrial assets.

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Officials say they aim to show the region can play a key role in carbon capture and storage (CCS), district heating, the hydrogen economy and large-scale energy storage, which all have the capacity to create and support thousands of jobs.

The CCS proposal, which aims to secure carbon dioxide from coal-fired power plants and heavy industry before storing it underground to stop it going 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.

Now, however, TVCA and Nepic, working with KPMG, hope their six-month project will reignite the focus on CCS and associated ventures to help steer the region towards fresh growth.

Mr McDonald said: “I very much welcome the commitment to produce a new strategy to reinforce the region’s low carbon credentials.

“But, given that the case for carbon capture and utilisation, district heating and the hydrogen economy has been made and better made over the last several years, it really is the time to get down to making this ambition turn into a reality.

“Clearly the Government’s commitment of up to £20m to CCS development is very welcome but what is needed is the multi-billion pound investment by Government to urgently kick start this industry.

“If we delay it will be too late to keep our existing industries let alone attract new inward investment.

“In short, our competitors will steal a march on us.

“I would encourage the strategy writers to move with all due speed and draw upon the work that has already been done and get to publication as a matter of urgency.”

Speaking about the plans, Iain Wright, Nepic chief executive, said: “We led the world in steel and chemicals and similar determination will ensure we are at the fore of low carbon manufacturing.

“Such work will not only help maintain our manufacturing competitiveness, but also shape new industries, companies and jobs.”