31/07/2003

Massive rescue package set to save 10,000 jobs

The government is set to offer a £50 million rescue package to help safeguard over 10,000 jobs in the UK chemicals sector.

Trade and Industry Secretary Patricia Hewitt announced today that Regional Selective Assistance had been awarded to chlorine manufacturer Ineos Chlor to help modernise its Runcorn facility on Merseyside.

Over 2,000 direct jobs at the plant will be safeguarded by the aid, part of a £389 million investment programme by the company – safeguarding around a further 8,000 jobs in associated businesses which are dependent upon the Runcorn site.

The modernisation includes building a new, more efficient, steam-generating plant and the installation of modern computer control systems.

Ms Hewitt said: "This is great news for the UK chemicals sector and the regions which will benefit from today's decision.

"This assistance not only demonstrates the government's commitment to high-skilled, high-value manufacturing but also secures well paid jobs in areas where the unemployment rate is much higher than the UK average."

The investment will make the Runcorn site more environmentally friendly, the government claims. The construction of a modern steam boiler plant will "virtually eliminate" its emissions of sulphur dioxide and will reduce its nitrogen dioxide emissions by 80%.

The assistance is subject to European Commission approval and consists of £40 million grant and £10 million loan.

(GMcG)

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