Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

SSI Site Is 'A Contaminated Muddy Field' WHY CAR INEOS BOSS REJECTED TEESSIDE

Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

SSI Site Is 'A Contaminated Muddy Field' WHY CAR INEOS BOSS REJECTED TEESSIDE

Article excerpt

Byline: KELLEY PRICE kelley.price@trinitymirror.com @kelleyprice_gaz

THE billionaire who shunned a Teesside site as the location for his major 4x4 car plant said it was a "contaminated, muddy field with no road links - and no clear ownership of the land".

Ineos owner Sir Jim Ratcliffe did not think the South Tees Development site could "meet his timescales" but denied turning it down "on a whim" - claiming "nothing could be further from the truth".

But the South Tees Development Corporation (STDC) says his comments are an "unfair characterisation" of the state of the 4,500-acre site - which includes the ex-SSI steelworks - and Ineos had always said it preferred to convert an existing car factory "rather than build one from scratch".

Sir Jim - who is the UK's wealthiest man - was responding to a Financial Times report on Projekt Grenadier, his plan for a large UK factory to plug a gap for off-road vehicles left by Landrover's Defender.

He had been eyeing up the South Tees site as a possible location for months.

STDC chiefs say they "threw the kitchen sink" at bringing the plant to Teesside but the tycoon rebuffed them, reportedly choosing a ready-made rival facility in Wales.

The tycoon made the latest comments in a letter to the FT in response a column in the paper entitled "Big companies are pushing governments around", which referred to the STDC's efforts to lure Ineos.

Mr Ratcliffe wrote: "It implies that despite the riches of Croesus being laid at our feet by the authority, we churlishly dismissed the region on a whim. "Nothing could be further from the truth.

"The offered site was a large, contaminated, muddy field with no road links and, at the time of our visit, no clear ownership of the land.

"There was no guarantee that the necessary infrastructure could be put in place to meet our timescale. " Decisions "such as this", he said, did not come down to a "crude auction of financial incentives".

Tees Valley Mayor Ben Houchen previously said he had thrown "the kitchen sink" at bringing the new car plant to the South Tees site. …

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