On 23 August 2023 we were joined by five HM Treasury representatives as they visited Tees Valley to discover more about the challenges that industry is facing on the ground.
The meeting comes following another visit from the Department for Business and Trade earlier this year, which enabled the government officials to understand the attractions for overseas companies to invest on Teesside.
During their visit we provided the HMT representatives with a tour around the Wilton International site and hosted a roundtable panel featuring NEPIC members from Mitsubishi Chemical Group, ConocoPhillips, Alpek, px Group, SABIC, Navigator Terminals, Sembcorp, Wood and Kellas Midstream.
We emphasised the great potential for the Teesside chemical industry to grow using decarbonisation as a lever, but that government must play its part with industry friendly policies that are clear, match the USA’s IRA and the EU’s Green Deal, and are simple to understand.
Currently, the NE process sector is still decarbonising by de-industrialising with facilities closing due to internationally high energy prices. We need to reverse this trend by attracting international investment to access decarbonisation via CCS and hydrogen. To do this we need:
The uncertainty around regulations is also hitting investment. This applies to both UK-REACH and the UK Emissions Trading Scheme.
The Treasury team were informed that it is currently more economic to export plastic waste than keep it in the UK for recycling. Teesside is a prime location for plastics recycling and the government should change policies that are holding this back.
For some companies, decarbonisation via electrification will be easier to achieve. Government needs to provide incentives for this as well as CCS and Hydrogen.
The HMT team were told of concerns around UK chemical innovation being deployed overseas and not on our Chemical Parks. Concerns were also raised that the Local Skills Improvement Plans (LSIPs) funded by government were not addressing the needs of existing industries.
Following the visit, Philip added:
“It was great to have representatives from HM Treasury visit us, and nine NEPIC members, in the Tees Valley yesterday. It is imperative we continue these discussions with HMT, and other government departments, to ensure we can overcome the challenges our industry faces on the path to decarbonisation and Net Zero.”
James Thorniley-Walker, head of heat and industrial decarbonisation at HM Treasury said:
“We have enjoyed coming up to Wilton today to speak with members and get their feedback on different government policies to allow us to know what is working and what isn’t.
“We also wanted members to understand that we are the right people to speak to when they have issues and we have enjoyed understanding how we can do more to support this sector in the North East on its path to decarbonisation.”