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Clean Growth Industries: New Jobs

Volume 672: debated on Tuesday 3 March 2020

Thank you, Mr Speaker.

The Government are committed to making the UK a world leader in clean growth, building on existing strengths in sectors such as nuclear and offshore wind. We are taking action to deliver that, including by investing £3 billion in low-carbon innovation to 2021 and £170 million from the industrial strategy challenge fund to support our industrial decarbonisation mission to create at least one low-carbon industrial cluster by 2030.

Tidal energy could be a game changer for my constituency of Barrow and Furness, for Morecambe bay and for the wider United Kingdom, through clean energy production and the ability to lead the world in this technology. Does my hon. Friend agree that, when considering the viability of these schemes, we have to rewrite the Treasury’s Green Book to take into account not only the unit cost of energy produced, but the value to the UK of leading in this technology and the social impact of bringing the schemes to constituencies such as mine?

I thank my hon. Friend for that question; I know how passionately he cares about the issue. I agree that the seas around the UK offer huge opportunities for cutting emissions and growing our economy. The offshore wind projects near his constituency offer an excellent example of UK leadership in renewable power. We are determined to drive growth in all parts of the UK and ensure that our assessment of projects takes full account not just of carbon savings, but of the growth and opportunities that they can provide for people across the country.

The Net Zero Teesside project aims to decarbonise the Teesside industrial cluster by as early as 2030, capturing up to 6 million tonnes of carbon dioxide annually. The project could support up to 5,500 direct jobs, and it could help to safeguard as many as 16,000 existing jobs in the Tees valley. The UK has a unique chance to lead global development of a new carbon capture, utilisation and storage industry. Will the Government prioritise this technology?

My hon. Friend, who I know cares passionately about this issue, makes a really good point; CCUS will be vital to meeting our net zero target and revitalising the UK’s industrial areas. The Government have invested over £50 million in CCUS innovation, and recently we consulted on potential business models to help progress deployment. The CCUS action plan aims to enable the commissioning of the first facility in the UK in the mid-2020s. We committed in our manifesto to investing £800 million towards that, and £500 million to help energy-intensive industries move to low-carbon techniques.

If the Government want to help clean growth, they can invest in the Mersey tidal power project. It is clean, entirely predictable, and could power 1 million homes. It offers high-quality jobs and has massive domestic and export potential. Steve Rotheram and the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority have just committed a further £3.5 million to the project, so will the Government back the people of the north-west by supporting investment in this exciting new project? It is a chance to demonstrate that they are interested in and serious about tackling the climate crisis.

Yes, absolutely. We need to do that for research and development in all technologies, and I will welcome the opportunity to meet the hon. Gentleman in the future.

The Minister says the UK is a world leader in offshore wind, but the reality is that too many manufacturing and supply chain jobs go abroad following the award of contracts for difference. Will she look seriously at including a quality assessment mechanism in the bid process to incentivise companies to use UK firms such as CSWind and BiFab?

We are making sure that we get to 60% UK employment in manufacturing by investing in R&D. We are committed to doing that.

Nuclear fusion and cleantech are key drivers of the fourth industrial revolution that will help to create hundreds of thousands of jobs across the whole country this decade. Will my hon. Friend ensure that the COP26 summit is used to showcase our country’s green entrepreneurs?

As the Government rejected the opportunity to create new clean jobs when they scrapped the Swansea bay tidal lagoon, which had huge potential for communities along the Severn to kick-start further lagoons, may I, along with other hon. Members, urge them to look again at the huge potential of tidal power?

I can confirm that we have a commitment to net zero, and we are doing everything we can to look at carbon neutral.