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Composites

Volume 715: debated on Thursday 26 November 2009

Statement

I am today announcing the publication of the UK Composite Strategy.

Fulfilling a commitment made in our policy document, New Industry, New Jobs, this strategy sets out the role Government have to play to help build a globally competitive composites industry here in the UK.

Advanced composites, such as carbon fibre, are light-weight, higher performance materials. Their use to reduce weight in automotive, aerospace and other transport applications can deliver savings in running costs and, more significantly, carbon emissions—helping increase resource efficiency and drive our shift to low carbon vehicles. The strength and stiffness of advanced composites also make them an ideal material for the production of the new generation of larger wind turbines.

The UK already has a developed expertise in using composites in aerospace and high-performance cars, but future significant growth in the composite industry will be driven by more mass market, high volume cost-effective production. The Government’s new composite strategy comprises a package of measures to strengthen Britain's composites capability, to build its composites capacity and to improve the sector's sustainability. Our aim is to enable more UK manufacturers to secure an increased share of this growing market.

The strategy includes proposals to:

strengthen leadership in the fragmented composites sector through the establishment of a Composite Leadership Forum. A BIS Minister will chair this forum, which will involve key companies and industry stakeholders;

develop future technical and manufacturing capabilities in composites through a more co-ordinated approach to skills development;

raise awareness of the cross-sector commercial opportunities composites present through a supply chain initiative. This will be led by the regional development authorities alongside the Composite Centres of Excellence;

develop rapid manufacturing capability, with government investment of £16 million to create a cross-sectoral National Composite Centre in the Bristol region. The centre will deliver world-class innovation in the design and cost-effective rapid production of composites across all sectors. A £6 million Technology Strategy Board Challenge will also be set to spark innovation solutions in this area; and

increase sustainability and recycling of composites, with a new consortium of government, business and other key stakeholders to prioritise work on issues such as improving recycling processes and applications for recyclate.

As the market evolves, so will our approach. We will continue to work with businesses, industry bodies, trade unions, academics, regional development agencies and devolved Administrations to deliver these proposals.

Further details of the strategy will be available to the House later today.