North East to be a Leader in low carbon future

Prime Minister Gordon Brown visited Nissan today 20 July 2009 along with Business Secretary Lord Mandelson and welcomed Nissan’s intention to invest more than £200m over the next five years in a new battery factory in Sunderland. The plant, has beaten off competition from other Nissan factories in Europe for the investment.

The rechargeable lithium-ion battery plant, Nissan’s European Centre of Excellence for Battery Manufacturing, comes as the Prime Minister announced the region would become the UK’s first Low Carbon Economic Area specialising in ultra-low carbon vehicles.

The battery investment makes Nissan Sunderland a good contender for manufacture of the group’s new “greener” electric vehicles.

Prime Minister Gordon Brown said:

“Nissan’s investment in a new battery plant and its hope to start producing electric vehicles here in Sunderland is great news for the local economy, creating up to 350 direct jobs and creating and safeguarding hundreds more in the associated supply chain.

“This investment is also hugely significant as we embark on Building Britain’s Future, our plan for recovery and beyond powered by low carbon, high technology industries, products and services.

“Sunderland could now be a strong contender to produce electric vehicles for Nissan in Europe, and we will continue to work with Nissan to ensure this happens.”

The Government is working with Nissan on supporting this investment by offering grants and loan guarantees, including support through the Automotive Assistance Programme.

Low Carbon Economic Areas (LCEAs) were introduced in the Government’s Low Carbon Industrial Strategy last week. They aim to draw together national, local and regional agencies to focus support on accelerating the growth of low carbon industries, skills base and supply chain.

The North East LCEA, led by One North East, will focus on supporting the transformation of automotive industry, providing support for innovation and demonstration, skills training and clustering of manufacturing.

Business Secretary Peter Mandelson said:

“The North East has distinguished itself as the first specialised region for ultra-low carbon vehicles. This is good news not just for the North East, but for the whole of the UK, helping to attract foreign investment and securing UK’s place as a global leader in high-tech manufacturing and automotive industries.

“The collaboration between local businesses, universities and colleges will create a hub of expertise to boost innovation and accelerate business growth in this important area of ‘green’ industry.”

  • As part of the Low Carbon Economic Area, the Government intends to establish:
  • A training centre - the first to specialise in the manufacture and maintenance of ultra-low carbon vehicles. Government is in discussions with national companies such as the AA about how the centre can help update skills to keep up with the growing use of ultra-low carbon vehicles.
  • A Research & Development Centre - serving as a home for research from all five local universities bringing together fundamental and applied research in ultra-low carbon vehicle technology and use.
  • An open access test track to trial the use of new technologies.
  • One NorthEast is also looking at options to reopen all or part of the Leamside Rail Line, which would help improve access to the Port of Tyne to boost imports and exports in the region.
    Over the next two years 750 charging points will be installed in a range of locations in the NorthEast, including supermarkets, shopping centres, public transport installations, hospitals, universities, public buildings and domestic and business premises. The first points are currently being installed in Newcastle and Gateshead.