A NORTH-EAST bioethanol plant has resumed production after work was paused last year - but the company behind it has warned concerns surrounding Brexit need to be "clarified immediately".

Last November, CropEnergies announced it was pausing production at its Ensus bioethanol plant, in Wilton, near Redcar due to a fall in ethanol prices.

It was the fourth time production had been paused at the site since 2011.

The plant supports around 2,000 jobs in the supply chain across Northern England, and bosses insisted at the time of closure that none of the 80 workers who are based at the plant or the firm's office in Yarm, near Stockton, would face redundancy at that stage.

But in a statement, the firm has said it is restarting its UK plant, initially at reduced capacity, to "meet local demand" and the development of the local British market for alternative fuels is "imperative".

However, bosses have warned questions related to Brexit regarding customs for imports and exports are of "existential importance for the production site Wilton".

A spokesperson for CropEnergies said: "In its meeting today (February 27), the executive board of CropEnergies AG, Mannheim, has decided to resume ethanol production in its UK plant in Wilton at the beginning of March 2019.

"It is planned to initially run the factory at reduced capacity to supply orders from British customers.

"For a continuous operation of the plant in Wilton, the development of the local British market for alternative fuels is imperative. This includes above all the speedy introduction of Premium E10 with 10 volume percent of ethanol which has been overdue for years.

"Already today, climate friendly Premium E10 is the standard fuel for the certification of new petrol engines in the EU.

"Currently, the British decarbonisation of transport is mainly based on biodiesel which, to a considerable degree, is produced from used cooking oils. A large part is imported from third countries, such as the People’s Republic of China where the guiding principle of waste reduction is not legally specified.

"Furthermore, the questions related to Brexit regarding customs for imports and exports to and from the United Kingdom need to be clarified immediately.

"The future customs regulations are of existential importance for the production site Wilton."

Speaking in the House of Commons  at Department for Exiting the EU Questions, Redcar MP Anna Turley challenged ministers to rule out the possibility of no tariffs on biofuels.

“On behalf of the bioethanol industry can I highlight the devastating impact a possible zero tariff regime would have on their industry.

“Tariff levels are there to ensure a level playing field - the UK industry cannot compete with US bioethanol which has substantially lower energy costs and feedstock prices.

“The Ensus biofuel plant at Wilton in my constituency is only just going to restart after a production pause but only with reduced operations and British jobs hang in the balance.

“So, can I ask the Minister if he will meet with members of the Bioethanol Industry to reassure them on this point and to also assure the House today that a zero tariff regime for Bioethanol would not come into force at any point - Deal or no deal?”

In response the Minister, Kwasi Kwarteng MP, said he was happy to meet with the industry and that there was no question of damaging tariffs under the Withdrawal Agreement.