Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Plan to Save Our Chemical Industry in Mandy's Hands

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Plan to Save Our Chemical Industry in Mandy's Hands

Article excerpt

Byline: Andrew Mernin

LORD Mandelson is to be handed a 10-point action plan drawn up by North East business leaders, MPs and local authorities on how to safeguard the future of Teesside's chemicals industry.

The plan aims to tackle the immediate and long-term challenges facing the sector - and its vast Wilton epicentre - to ensure it remains an economic powerhouse for the region for years to come.

The proposed measures include cutting energy use, encouraging the training of the skilled workforce needed for tomorrow's industries and developing new processes.

Business Secretary Lord Mandelson will be handed the plans, which will also recommend that the Government works more closely with businesses by forming a task group to identify new opportunities for growth in the sector. The plan is focused on the needs of the massive Wilton site near Redcar and comes amid growing concerns about its viability following a series of devastating closures and redundancy programmes in recent months.

Recession-hit chemical companies Artenius, Dow and Croda all decided to close their plants in Wilton this year, with the loss of more than 300 jobs this summer, fuelling fears of a chain reaction affecting many of the other engineering and chemical ingredient companies at the site.

Bob Coxon OBE, chairman of the Science and Industry Council for North East England, said: "This action plan is very much by industry for industry.

"It captures the concerns of industry, the challenges it faces but also how industry intends to take decisive action to secure its future working closely with the public sector.

"Our goal is to create new sectors of the process industry that can be internationally competitive with high growth potential. …

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