North East politicians have had their say on the closure of a major industrial plant which could see the loss of dozens of jobs.

Labour MP for Stockton North, Alex Cunningham said CF Fertilisers' announcement on Tuesday (July 25) that it would be permanently closing its ammonia plant in Billingham was 'bad news' for Teesside, whilst Tees Valley Mayor Ben Houchen said it was a 'blow'.

The decision has been met with concern as 38 jobs are now at risk.

The site is the last fertiliser plant in the UK and had been mothballed since August 2022.

Read more: CF Fertilisers permanently halts ammonia production in Billingham

Mr Cunningham said: "CF Fertilisers' decision to permanently close its ammonia plant is bad news for our area, the 38 people who now face redundancy, and the many businesses from the food and drink industry to hospitals, who rely on the CO2 produced as a by-product in the manufacture of fertiliser.

“The decision to shut the plant down is part of a wider pattern of the declining confidence of industry that the Government will support them.

"We hear lots of warm words from Ministers about backing energy-intensive industry and developing carbon capture and storage but the reality is one of scaled-back plans such as the CO2 collection pipe vital for many Teesside-based industries, and missed opportunities in Teesside and the Humber.

“Sadly CF is not an isolated case. Nearby Mitsubishi is closing, as has INEOS’ Seal Sands site.

"Uncertainty is the killer of investment and without full-throated Government support – and the resources to match it – I fear for the future of the industry on Teesside.”

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The company have cited the price of producing ammonia, stating it would not be cost-competitive in the long term.

Mr Houchen said: “This is a blow to CF Fertilisers’ workers, and my heart goes out to those who are now facing redundancy.

"As well as being hit by fuel prices – a problem we can all understand – a number of industry shutdowns elsewhere have regrettably meant CF Fertilisers has had to make the difficult decision to close this aspect of its plant.

“I’ll continue to work with the business to help it take advantage of any and all opportunities at its Billingham plant to help it grow in the future.”

A Department for Business and Trade spokesperson said they were disappointed by the news of the closure and would be monitoring the situation closely.

They said: "This is obviously disappointing news, however, the closure is a commercial decision.

"We are monitoring the situation closely and are hopeful that CF will redeploy those affected in the business where possible.” 

NFU Deputy President Tom Bradshaw said the decision to close the plant was concerning and said the closure will have a knock-on effect on domestic food security.

He said: “This decision is a concerning one and exposes our fertiliser market further to global volatility.

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"Availability of fertiliser is a crucial element of domestic food security and relying on importing ammonia from global markets exposes British fertiliser production to possible long-term risks.

“Fertiliser is a vital tool that helps British farmers and growers produce food for the nation.

"It’s important that the Government now look closely at how this shift to a reliance of imported ammonia could impact our domestic food production."