Creating the right environment for the Tees Valley to continue to attract business investment and create new jobs in the coming decades was top of the agenda as the government’s official advisers on infrastructure policy visited the region.
Tees Valley Mayor Ben Houchen met advisers from the National Infrastructure Commission – with transport links, industrial networks for storing and transporting hydrogen and carbon, and clean energy generation all discussed in depth.
Sir John Armitt, Chair of the Commission, led a delegation from the independent advisory body, which is opening a new office in Leeds this week.
The Commissioners were keen to discuss how government policy, funding mechanisms and decision-making processes can better serve the needs of the region and support goals including Levelling Up and reaching the net zero emissions target by 2050.
A visit to the vast Teesworks site in Redcar was front and centre of the visit – with Commissioners shown how the site was leading the way in clean energy and advanced manufacturing. The Commissioners also visited Teesside Airport to see the impact of recent terminal upgrades, plans for growth in cargo, as well as meeting local business leaders to discuss how national policy could help achieve the region’s future aspirations.
Tees Valley Mayor Ben Houchen said: “We are busy with projects of huge significance to Teesside, Darlington and Hartlepool – but our vision also offers a great example to other regions in the UK in how to take on net zero growth and game-changing regeneration. Teesworks is the UK’s biggest industrial project and we’re leading the way to become the nation’s green energy capital through projects like Net Zero Teesside and Carbon Capture and Storage.
“The National Infrastructure Commission helps shape national decisions that can have an impact on our own bold plans for attracting businesses and creating jobs in our region.
“This was a great opportunity to showcase the sheer scale of what we are doing now as well as our future ambitions, and how we’re leading the way.
“Big projects and infrastructure play a crucial role in growing our regional economy in a way that benefits everyone – and people and policy-makers are sitting up and taking notice of our progress.”
The Chair of the National Infrastructure Commission, Sir John Armitt, said: “Tees Valley’s industrial heritage is iconic, but it has been fascinating to learn more about the region’s mighty ambitions for the future.
“Teesworks and the surrounding areas will play a huge role in the UK’s successful shift to cleaner energy and a lower carbon future, and our role is to make sure long term infrastructure policy is helping make that happen. We’re grateful to the Mayor and everyone else who has met us on this eye-opening visit.”
The next National Infrastructure Assessment will be published this autumn. The Commission has already announced that it will focus on three strategic themes: achieving the legally binding net zero emissions target; protecting the environment and enhancing climate resilience; and levelling up economic prosperity and quality of life the UK. Ministers are required to respond formally to the Commission’s recommendations within a year.