Labour and Co-operative MP for Redcar, Anna Turley, has called on the new government to fulfil it’s commitments to the SSI site and turbocharge regeneration work.
In a letter to the new Secretary of State at the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, Andrea Leadsom, Anna urges the minister to put the regeneration of the SSI site at the top of the new government’s agenda and to honour commitments for central government to pay the full clean-up costs.
Text of the letter
Dear Secretary of State,
Regeneration of the former SSI steelworks
Congratulations on your appointment and I hope we can continue the constructive dialogue I had with your predecessor, especially in relation to British Steel, the wider UK steel industry, and on the issue which I write to you about today, the regeneration of the former SSI steelworks site in my constituency.
As you may be aware, almost four years have passed since the closure of the steelworks and the site remains an industrial graveyard with huge remediation and security requirements. In the aftermath of the closure, Lord Heseltine said: “It is much better to make it clear, central government will pay the clean-up costs and underwrite them whatever the bill comes to”. In the 2017 Budget, Teesside was given confirmation that the government would be honouring its responsibility to maintain and keep safe this COMAH graded industrial site. The financial commitment of £118 million to the South Tees Site Company was welcome, however this was a commitment to keeping the site safe for a limited number of years and not a long term solution to readying the site for the development of new industries.
The South Tees Development Corporation received just £5 million in the 2017 Budget and a further £14 million in the 2018 Budget, which were welcome contributions for short term projects but this does not come close to the estimated £200 million we need to transform the site to be ready for new industry. I am determined that it should not be left to local people in my area to pay for the clean-up and I am equally aware that the private sector will not take risks on a site like this unless it has had sufficient assurances and guarantees from government and that the site is ready for their investment.
On Teesside we are optimistic about what can be achieved here and this is one of the biggest investment opportunities in the UK right now. Locally, through the South Tees Development Corporation, we have an ambitious masterplan to create 20,000 jobs on the south bank of the Tees. There have been expressions of interest from more than 60 international investors from a whole range of industries, including power generation, energy storage, materials processing, rail industries, steelmaking, manufacturing, and waste management. Moreover, last year a consortium of energy companies announced the Clean Gas Project for the world’s first energy plant to be located on the Development Corporation site, including full-chain carbon, capture and storage provision. A multi-million pound offshore wind turbine facility is also being planned for the area. These are exciting investments for Teesside and exactly the kind of modern, green industry we have huge potential to take a lead on.
The potential for new industries and the creation of skilled jobs here is extremely positive, as we focus our efforts on the future and recovering from the disastrous hard closure. Land ownership remains a significant barrier to realising those ambitions but a compulsory purchase is now underway and will be some time from completion. As one of the biggest investment opportunities in the UK right now, and at a time when the ongoing competitiveness of our nation’s economy is of paramount importance, the site should be high on the government’s agenda and I am writing today to ensure that is the case.
I urge you to honour the commitments made by the government at the time of the steelworks closure to meet the full costs of cleaning up the site and I ask that you use every lever at your government’s disposal to ensure we can deliver Teesside’s full potential and create thousands of jobs. I would welcome the opportunity to meet to discuss this further.