If there is one good cause that can unite politicians of all parties, even in the fractious North East, it is green energy. Yesterday saw two Conservative ministers, a Labour member of Gateshead’s cabinet and a Liberal Democrat member of County Durham’s quoted in the same press release to promote green energy projects.
The occasion was a visit by Lord Callanan of Low Fell, Minister for Business, Energy and Corporate Responsibility, to his home turf to support what the North East Local Enterprise Partnership (NELEP) described as three nationally significant activities.
One was the use of natural geothermal-heated water that has gathered in the underground networks of former deep coal mines to help the UK to achieve its net zero target by 2050.
The second was Gateshead Council’s zero carbon heat strategy, outlining its ambition to make all council buildings and homes net zero by 2030 through major investment in heat networks, as well as supporting clean hydrogen and heat pumps.
The third was the promotion of the North East and Tees Valley as an inward investment location for the UK in heat networks.
While in the region, Lord Callanan joined Anne-Marie Trevelyan, MP, Minister for Energy, Clean Growth and Climate Change and MP for Berwick, who was officially opening Hydrogen House, the UK’s first house to demonstrate the use of hydrogen-fuelled appliances in a real-world setting, at Northern Gas Networks’ Low Thornley site in Gateshead.
These visits were arguably more significant than others by relatively junior ministers, highlighting as they did aspects of the green industries which are being increasingly seen as key elements in the North East’s route to levelling up, boosted in particular by recently announced plans for electric vehicles and batteries at Nissan and Envision at Sunderland and Britishvolt at Blyth and by other green investments in wind energy and on the Teesworks site in Tees Valley.
Andrew Clark, Energy Lead at NELEP, said: ‘The North East has an existing skills base, supply chain and infrastructure, plus a nationally-significant project pipeline, which means we are ideally positioned to make a huge contribution to the UK’s drive to achieve net zero. During today’s visit, we were able to showcase some of the globally-important energy projects which are taking place in our region and demonstrate how the North East is on its way to becoming the UK’s first cluster for low carbon heat innovation, supply chain and delivery.’