In both the recent local and European elections, we have seen a massive shift in the political landscape that cannot be ignored.
These election results could be heralding wider upheaval on a national level further down the line but, with the Prime Minister’s announcement that she will step down on 7th June, change is coming soon. At the very least, we will have a new Prime Minister in a matter of weeks and we need to be ready to get our voice heard at the top table. This is where devolution will play a part in shaping and informing the future leader of the country – through Local Industrial Strategies.
“We need to be ready to get our voices heard at the top table”
The driving force behind devolution is the concept that not all of the UK’s regions are the same, and a one-size-fits-all approach isn’t the way to go. These strategies tackle that head on, by laying out and build on a region’s specific strengths, challenges and future opportunities. In short, they are a great way for us to set out to the new Prime Minister what they need to be doing to rebalance the economy.
The Tees Valley is part of the Government’s second wave of developing Local Industrial Strategies, which will sit alongside our Strategic Economic Plan and detail how our area will contribute to and achieve national productivity growth. For example, we are an area heavily focused on becoming the clean growth capital of the UK and, with our expertise in chemicals and process industries and research and innovation, we are in the perfect position to deliver that.
A multibillion-pound clean gas project will pave the way for the Tees Valley to become a clean energy powerhouse. OGCI, a consortium of six global energy giants, is set to create the world’s first gas-powered energy plant in the region, in order to deploy full-chain carbon capture, utilisation and storage at scale. Ground-breaking technology will be used to capture carbon dioxide from the plant, then stored via pipelines under the North Sea. Not only will this lower our carbon footprint, it also has the potential to boost our economy by attracting companies looking to utilise this carbon dioxide commercially.
“Local Industrial Strategies are a great way for us to set out to the new Prime Minister what they need to be doing to rebalance the economy”
Our region’s plan to become a clean energy powerhouse doesn’t just mean producing clean energy of our own, but also the technology that will decarbonise industry the world over. We already produce 50% of the UK’s hydrogen, so by properly utilising this asset, we can keep manufacturing jobs in our area and build on the global drive to further cut carbon emissions, rather than be held back by it.
The Government’s confidence in our region’s industry, skills and supply chain can be seen by our successful £1.3million bid to become home to two hydrogen refuelling stations and vehicles. This is just the start of our hydrogen plans, and the tip of the iceberg for other green energy projects.
We have the schemes that other regions don’t, we have leading industry working together as a cluster and, when cemented in our emerging Local Industrial Strategy, we will have a blueprint to success. In this ever-changing world, it will be one constant that clearly outlines to our future leaders how they can help drive forward not just the Tees Valley region, but the whole of the UK.