Infrastructure Bank will play major role in economic revival - Patrick Pogue

It was clear from Chancellor Rishi Sunak’s Budget that this Government is determined to be as creative and as innovative as possible to help get the country moving again post-pandemic, and that one of its main tools to do so will be through vital extra funding and public investment.

Thursday, 18th March 2021, 12:12 pm
Leeds will be the home of the UK Infrastructure Bank

According to the published speech, the Humber was namechecked twice by Rishi Sunak – that’s two more than the number of times London was mentioned. The headline news for the Humber was the granting of freeport status, which is touted as being set to bring with it around 7,000 jobs as well as a further boost to its status as an international gateway for trade.

This, coupled with the announcement of new funding for the port infrastructure that accelerates offshore wind projects, serves as a timely reminder of the key role played by industry and infrastructure in the Humber region.

Of course, we can’t rely on the Government to do all the work; often the best progress comes when public and private entities work together. So now is the time, with the springboard provided by the Government, for businesses to take the reins, collaborate and help lead the charge to make the most of this once-in-a-generation opportunity.

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From our Saltend Chemicals Park on the banks of the Humber, I see first-hand just how important it is for businesses to work together on one end goal to achieve efficiencies and help drive the economy forward.

It’s likely you read about the Government’s intention to set up a UK Infrastructure Bank in Leeds that will, in part, help tackle climate change – another sure sign that Yorkshire will play a key role in the UK ‘going green’.

You may also have heard how a little further east, the Humber has brought together its leading businesses to become a genuine driving force of that energy transition. And it’s this type of collaboration that will help the region exploit the opportunities from the Budget.

Along with 11 other companies in the Humber, we’ve helped put together a bid for funding for Zero Carbon Humber, a world-class project that will deliver the UK’s first net-zero emissions carbon cluster, cutting 900,000 tonnes of CO2 from our air each year and creating thousands of local jobs. If successful, the bid will see Saltend itself become home to the UK’s first-ever clean hydrogen plant.

As well as this revolutionary project, Saltend itself has seen hundreds of millions of pounds worth of investment committed in the last four months, all of which will help cut the region’s emissions. Much of that investment has come from Pensana Rare Earths, a world- leading company that produces materials critical for the magnets deployed in electric vehicles and wind farm technology.

Vivergo, which once employed over 100 highly skilled people at Saltend and supported over 2000 jobs in the supply chain has announced that it is restarting its bioethanol production at the Park. Both Pensana and Vivergo – and hopefully more major international players that are in the pipeline – will be making use of Saltend’s integrated utilities, services and infrastructure that is ripe for investment, as well as partnering with other local businesses at the site.

The announcement of the freeport status for the Humber will further enhance the opportunities for investment here. It is collaboration on this scale that will see Yorkshire and the Humber really capitalise on the opportunities it has been given after doing so much to earn them. Over to our businesses, who must now work together, share best practice, and collaborate to seize the moment.

By Patrick Pogue - Group Commercial Development Director, px GroupGroup Commercial Development Director, px Group