THE Government played a key role in ensuring Nissan's new Note was built in the North-East and not abroad, a senior Government minister has said.

Business minister Michael Fallon says a £9.3m investment from the Government's flagship Regional Growth Fund was integral to keeping the factory's production line rolling.

Mr Fallon, who visited Nissan's Sunderland plant to see work officially start on the Note project, said the cash reflected the Government's commitment to North-East jobs and the region's economy, which was started by Baroness Thatcher about 30 years ago.

The former Darlington MP joined Prime Minister David Cameron for the launch of the all-electric Nissan Leaf in March, and said the company's Sunderland's plant was vitally important to the renaissance of the UK car industry.

He said: “I'm pleased that the Government has been able to help through the Regional Growth Fund and help launch the new Note here in the North-East.

“This is testament to the strength and commitment of the workforce, who make Nissan so successful.

“It is also worth remembering it is almost 30 years since Baroness Thatcher first helped Nissan investment here in the North-East.”

Mr Fallon, who is also energy minister, yesterday visited Air Products' new waste-to-energy plant in Billingham, near Stockton, which is expected to power 50,000 homes from next year, and Falck Safety Services, in Haverton Hill, near Billingham, which offers oil and gas, renewable energy, aviation and firefighting training.

He said: “It was very encouraging to see economic progress within Tees Valley and how companies are at the forefront of emerging technologies and markets.”