The Green Investment Bank - Environmental Audit Committee Contents

Written evidence submitted by Marchday Group Plc

The Green Investment Bank should be located in the Tees Valley.

There are good transport links.

There are recycled buildings that would be suitable for the GIB to put its aims into practice from the outset.

The region is embracing the "green" revolution.

The region needs investment to match its facilities and skills.

The North East economy would be stimulated.

Unemployment would be reduced.

1.  What is happening in the North East of the country is a green revolution. The region is at the forefront of the low carbon sector and leading the way on the energy efficiency process industry. The Tees Valley is fast becoming the nation's capital for green energy. There is the prospect of the North East becoming a centre of excellence for the renewable energy industry, with world class facilities from Teesside to Blyth. However, this revolution is one that needs assistance.

2.  The biggest hope for bringing Britain out of the recession; the burgeoning renewables industry, is not supported. Commercial funding markets are reluctant to invest, making it paramount that the government moves forward quickly with the Green Investment Bank (GIB).

3.  Along with leading figures in business, politics and the media, I am urging the government to strongly consider locating the GIB in the North East, specifically in the Tees Valley. GIB experts should be located near to the industries that it will support; at the heartland of the renewable industry. That heartland is found here in the Tees Valley.

4.  The reasons for establishing the GIB in the Tees Valley are manifold and compelling. The area has already begun to play a major, leading role in the efforts to reduce Britain's carbon footprint and create a sustainable, low carbon economy. It is the ideal location for the manufacture and establishment of the new generation of energy industries.

5.  The commitment to, and investment and activity in, the sector is evident throughout the region. The community is working to make Teesside and Tyneside hubs for wind farm development, with successful farms already operational inland, and off the coast of Blyth. Green power stations, due to be active by 2015, are to be constructed at Eston Grange. A £20 million manufacturing hub for wind turbines is taking shape at TAG Energy Solution's Haverton Hill yard near Billingham. The EDF Teesside/Redcar Wind farm project is due to come on line in the next year. These projects, however, will not come to fruition without further support and investment.

6.  Everything that is needed to capitalise on the renewables industry is available in the North East. All that is lacking is the investment.

7.  Manufacturing skills are second to none. The Tees Valley has a renowned heritage of industry and manufacture; mining, shipbuilding, steelworks, oil and gas technology. The technology, skills and expertise needed in these industries, for building oil rigs and tankers, are directly transferable to the new sector.

8.  There is a ready-made workforce with specialist knowledge, experience of large scale manufacture and a reputation for skilled engineering services to the oil and gas industry, and now the renewable energy sector. In addition, the Tees Valley still retains a major and specialist sub-contractor infrastructure covering all aspects of associated energy industry and renewables work.

9.  This workforce is readily available; many skilled engineers are unemployed due to the recession, which caused waves of devastating closures through the North East. The renewables sector is a lifeline for these individuals, their families and the region as a whole. Choosing Tees Valley as the administrative centre for the GIB would provide a much needed injection of public sector jobs to the North East, as well as facilitating employment for engineers and workers at the manufacturing frontline through its investments.

10.  The region has already begun to adapt to meet the economic and ecological challenges the globe faces, to deliver high-tech green solutions for the 21st century, using the wealth of knowledge and experience brought from decades of manufacturing. It is leading the field in carbon capture and storage, wind energy, solar power, electric vehicles, and tide and wave technology.

11.  The necessary facilities are also already in existence in the Tees Valley, a legacy of the previous industries. Nowhere else in the country can boast such a wealth of yards, hangars, docks and necessary infrastructure. Similarly, there are first class transport links with two airports, the mainline railway, good road networks, two working rivers; the Tyne and Tees, and ports in Redcar, Hartlepool, Sunderland, Blyth and Newcastle. The transport network and location make the Tees Valley very attractive for renewables developments, particularly those planned to be offshore, due to low transport costs and the reduced risk by being in close proximity to North Sea projects.

12.  The region also offers facilities directly of interest to the GIB itself, in addition to good transport links. It would be fitting for the bank to be housed in a recycled building or sustainable location. The Tees Valley is pioneering such developments and offers a number of suitable locations, such as Lingfield Point, which is an eco-friendly and sustainable business park recycling the former Paton and Baldwin's Wool Factory site

13.  If anywhere has the expertise, the facilities and the understanding of what is needed for the renewable energy industry and the tenacity to make it happen and so ensure the success of the GIB, it is the North East. It also deserves it.

14.  The North East is a pioneer, rising to the challenges of the 21st century and the emerging markets. It is deserving of recognition and support. In rewarding the region, the country as a whole will benefit because a prosperous North East provides more and need less.

15.  Locating the GIB in the North East would send several important messages. By supporting the leaders in the field of renewable energy it would show that green activity is supported and valued, and encourage other regions to follow suit.

16.  It would also send a message to investors that the government has confidence in the region. In addition to GIB investment, commercial funding markets would potentially open and there would be increased investment in the region leading to increased productivity and employment.

17.  The future the Tees Valley is building around the renewables market has the potential to secure the economic future of the entire North East. It could significantly reduce unemployment, reclaim the "lost" generation of young people and stimulate the economy on a long-term scale. The GIB has the opportunity to be a force behind the North East's regeneration.

18.  There is the ambition and capability for the Tees Valley to become the UK leader and preferred manufacturer for renewable energy structures. This would ensure UK plc's rightful place in the development of the significant renewables market and on the world stage of renewables technology.

19.  However, this is not a certainty. Where the Tees Valley is already rising to the challenge, now the government needs to. A dedicated flow of investment to the sector is vital to ensuring environmental targets are met and that the UK break-throughs in the sector do not disappear to Europe or the Far East.

20.  Without economic stimulation and support, the industry will look elsewhere and the UK will face the ironic, damaging juxtaposition of transporting millions of tonnes of dirty steel from one side of the world to the other, increasing the carbon footprint in the name of low carbon energy production. We should build British for Britain and we need the GIB to do this.

21.  Where else in the country has embraced the green agenda, adapted so quickly and successfully, suffered so much through the recession and fought through? Where else has taken such initiative? The market has been growing for over a decade and our European counterparts are well ahead in taking advantage of it. The North East is the only place in the UK that has endeavoured to catch up.

22.  This is the moment for the government to rebalance the economy; to have a real green agency with green institutions. It is also the time to rebalance the country. There are no mature financial institutions in the North. We feel this must be changed. There is a gap, an aching chasm, which the GIB can bridge. More than that, the GIB could herald the joining up of government and the manufacturing and financial sectors, a bridge between government and industry, between North and South. The GIB is an opportunity to make the North a partner in the New Britain, to showcase and harness the potential found in the region and kick-start the UK's environmental agenda.

23.  Those behind the GIB have a great responsibility and a great opportunity. The potential here is to be the force behind the renaissance of the North East and enable the UK to become a major player in this vital industry. This opportunity is the 21st century's oil and gas boom. That industry began in the 1970s and created employment and prosperity across the supply chain with massive economic benefits. We cannot let the renewable version pass us by.

24.  We also cannot diminish this opportunity by locating the GIB somewhere other than the North East.

Our local media have supported the initiative. Names of those in business and politics that have been published in support include:

James Wharton - MP Stockton South
Alex Cunningham - MP Stockton North
Jenny Chapman - MP Darlington
Ian Swales - MP Redcar
The Northern Echo
Alison Thain - Fabrick Housing Group
Cath Purdy - Housing Hartlepool
Paul Booth - Sabic
Michael O'Connell - EOS
Alex Dawson - TAG Energy Solutions
Neil Kenley - Tees Valley Unlimited
ONE North East
Marchday Group
George Rafferty - NOF Energy
Tom Brennan - GMB Union

12 October 2010

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