Sedgefield MP Phil Wilson, below, who has led the Back on Track campaign, pays tribute to all the people who have made Hitachi’s £4.5bn investment possible.

THE Government’s long-awaited decision to give the go-ahead to the Intercity Express Programme (IEP) is historic and has massive implications for the North-East, and Newton Aycliffe in particular.

Hundreds of jobs will be created during the factory’s construction, followed by hundreds more direct jobs once the plant is completed and starts to build trains. Thousands more indirect jobs will be created in the supply chain.

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For every £1 of public investment there will be a £48 return, but no public investment will be required until after the next election. Instead, Hitachi will invest £90m in its new factory.

I want to congratulate the Government for its decision and to pay tribute to the previous Government, which first started work on the IEP.

Most of all, I want to thank the people of the North-East for the way they pulled together and made the economic case for the Hitachi bid.

As a region we can be proud of how we campaigned together through the North East Chamber of Commerce, The Northern TUC, Durham County Council, the Federation of Small Businesses, Unite and the thousands of people who signed the Back on Track petition launched by The Northern Echo.

I also want to thank One North East, the soon-to-be-abolished regional development agency, for its work in attracting Hitachi to the region.

Our campaign group has adopted a non-partisan approach and it has held crossparty support in the region.

I genuinely believe our reasonable, balanced and considered approach made it harder for the Government to say no.

Newton Aycliffe can be proud of all we have achieved. When Hitachi first looked at sites for their factory, Newton Aycliffe wasn’t even on the list.

But Aycliffe came through because its local workforce possessed the necessary skills and its site possessed the necessary infrastructure – that is due to the foresight of Jeff Hunton and Merchant Place, the developers.

I believe, with the arrival of Hitachi, Newton Aycliffe will fulfil its potential as a thriving centre of industry.

There will be many challenges ahead, no doubt, but we now have the opportunity to build on our skills and abilities.

The North-East did just that with Nissan; now let us do the same with Hitachi.