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EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW WITH THERESA MAY: HUMBER TO PLAY KEY ROLE IN PM’S PLAN TO BOOST THE ECONOMY

THERESA May has promised that the Humber’s renewables sector will play “a key part” in the country’s new industrial strategy.

The Prime Minister has today revealed that one of her 10 top aims for growing the UK’s economy is to create “affordable energy and clean growth,” which she envisages both banks of the Humber paying a crucial role.

The target of creating a low-carbon economy will come with more money to invest in clean energy and an extra £28 million to invest in the Humber’s offshore wind ‘Energy Estuary’, she said.

Mrs May said: “The industrial strategy involves looking at the foundations and the areas of expertise we already have and obviously the renewables in Hull and the Humber is a key part of that industrial strategy.

“We know there's the new Siemens plant in Hull – where they are currently investing £300 million and creating 1,000 new jobs – so we’ve got this happening already.

“In fact, in Switzerland (last week) I was able to spend a brief time talking to the chief executive of Siemens, Joe Kaeser, about the investment they are putting into Hull.

“I think this is a very good example of how government can create the environment that encourages investment, develops those skilled and well-paid jobs and, of course, we want to see that developing more in the future.”

The 174-turbine Hornsea wind farm, being built by Grimsby-based Dong, will be the biggest in the world when it is completed, while the operation teams behind smaller farms Lincs and Race Bank are also controlled from Grimsby Docks.

The Conservative Party leader said that, having signalled her intention to leave the single market, the Government would be ensuring the right conditions were created so that businesses could “invest and grow in the long-term and create the high skilled jobs that we need to see in the future”.

Dong Energy as the world-leading wind farm developer, has pledged a £6 billion investment into the region.

“I haven't been able to meet Dong myself but the business department – BEIS as we call it now – has been having a lot of consultation and discussion with businesses and different sectors around the country as part of developing the document that we’ll be producing,” said Mrs May.

“But we’ll be having further consultation, further discussion with industry because we want to make sure we get this right.”

The PM said she recognised that there were “a number of (big players)” operating out of Grimsby – “you’ve got a number of companies there – there’s Dong, Centrica, E.on, RES, as well as Siemens,”– and that she hoped the new industrial strategy would provide the confidence the sector needed to continue its investment in the region.

As part of that, the PM confirmed the Government would be doubling its investment in energy innovation and also creating a new industrial strategy ‘challenge fund’ that “will help the UK capitalise on strength in science and innovation, such as clean energy”.

Asked about how the Government will ensure jobs are created in the wider economy, in order to fill the original prediction of establishing 20,000 jobs in the offshore wind supply chain, Mrs May said ministers would be looking to offer renewables companies “confidence” to continue their investment.

“I would say that this [creating ‘supply chain’ jobs] is exactly what the industrial strategy is about,” said Mrs May.

“It is about, from our point of view as government, giving the confidence developers and companies need to invest in creating that supply chain.

“There is a number of things we are doing to encourage the growth of these industries. And what is significant for the UK, of course, is that we have a particular expertise in renewables. I think that is recognised and we want to build on that.”

Siemens UK chief executive Juergen Maier said the new blade factory was “probably the best example of industrial strategy in action we have in the UK”.

He said it was “creating new, local, skilled jobs, sustainable growth and the latest renewable technology, benefiting the UK economy and our society”.

Mr Maier added: “I hope our new wind power blade factory in Hull will be a catalyst for further significant investments by our suppliers, customers and the industry at large.”

The Government has confirmed it will be willing to do “sector-by-sector” deals as it looks to keep the UK's economy ticking after Brexit. Mr Maier is currently working on an early sector deal on “industrial digitalisation”, said a Downing Street spokesman.

KEY POINTS

1. Affordable energy and clean growth to be one of the new UK industrial strategy's top ten aims

2. The Prime Minister sees the Humber as playing 'a key part' in creating low-carbon energy after Brexit

3. Theresa May has met with Siemens' top boss but has yet to meet with Dong Energy

4. Investment in energy innovation to double

5. Industrial strategy 'challenge fund' to be created in order to boost science behind clean energy.

6. Extra £28 million to boost investment in the 'Energy Estuary'


INDUSTRIAL STRATEGY – TOP 10 AIMS

1. Science, research and innovation – science industries to be encouraged to “commercialise”.

2. Skills – new technical education focus. More emphasis on science, technology, engineering and numeracy training.

3. Infrastructure – upgrade both digital (faster broadband etc), and transport infrastructure, with more investment decisions taken locally.

4. Business formation – make it easier for businesses to access finance and the right staff so they can make long-term investments.

5. Procurement policy – central government to focus on growth industries in order to develop UK supply chains on national projects.

6. Trade and inward investment policy – Whitehall departments to invest to create stronger home markets.

7. Affordable energy and clean growth – ensure costs are kept down for businesses and secure "the economic benefits of the transition to a low carbon economy".

8. Sectoral policies – challenge established companies to grow and also help new businesses to compete in key sectors.

9. Spreading growth across the country – addressing issues which are holding back areas from growing economically.

10. Creating the right institutional framework – building or investing in "missing institutions" such as educational colleges, trade associations or financial networks which would boost local economies.

 

Published in Hull Daily Mail