New Chamber services: HR, H&S, Legal & Tax

Now included in your Membership - Unlimited access to document library with
800 FREE downloadable templates PLUS 5 ADVICE LINES for help with key issues.

Add to home screen

Quick access to Chamber news, events and offers

Growing your business,
building our economy

Stars of Humber industry shine brightly for Shadow Treasury Minister at Chamber breakfast meeting in Scunthorpe

Stars of Humber industry shine brightly for Shadow Treasury Minister at Chamber breakfast meeting in Scunthorpe

Darren Jones MP (centre) with business leaders at the Chamber breakfast meeting at San Pietro in Scunthorpe.

THE Humber is not just another cluster – it has national and international significance and its economic geography is critically important to the UK. That was the loud and clear message for Shadow Chief Secretary to the Treasury, Darren Jones MP, at a Chamber breakfast meeting in Scunthorpe organised at short notice by Chamber board member Sir Nic Dakin.

Darren Jones was on a mission to get to the bottom of the issues holding back the Humber’s economic development for his boss, Shadow Chancellor Rachel Reeves, and was recently described by Alistair Campbell as a rising star in national politics.

Many of the Humber’s leading businesses were represented at the breakfast meeting, including Orsted, RWE, Drax, Equinor, British Steel, Able UK, Humber Freeport, Orsted and RWE representing the offshore wind sector and representatives of the oil refineries on the south bank, as well as a representative from Palace Yard.

Darren thanked the Chamber for hosting the meeting and highlighted that 2024 would be a momentous year. He told the meeting he had an affinity with the area, thanks to having a proud dock history in his family and he was connected to the town’s former MP, John Ellis who once held the Brigg and Scunthorpe seat.

He said a future Labour Government under Sir Keir Starmer would focus on the five key missions which have been laid out, and these would include making Government departments work better together. However, he was particularly concerned about infrastructure and major projects delivery. He highlighted how HS2 was a big example of how major projects can’t be scoped out and budgeted for properly in this country, ultimately leading to them being cancelled or costing the taxpayers millions more than they should. He said there was a need to provide better value for taxpayers.

Darren Jones meeting 1

Chamber board member Richard Gwilliam, a Drax director and also Chair of the Humber Energy Board, highlighted that the Humber’s CO2 emissions are twice that of any other region, 20% of all energy is produced in this area, huge wind farms, steel production and several CCS and decarbonisation schemes. “The Humber has a well thought out, ready to go plan to decarbonise the region and produce green and blue hydrogen, but these schemes and huge levels of private investment don’t seem to have resonated with the Government as we had hoped they would. We are a Track 2 cluster and there is nowhere in the UK where this is more critical. The Humber Energy Board is trying to create a single conversation to make Government understand the importance of the Humber.”

Richard Royal, representing Equinor, with its headquarters in Norway, explained how the company is investing in low carbon projects in the Humber. He said: “This is not a new technology. The Humber needs to be front and centre of any decarbonisation schemes by Government. It feels very unfair that the Humber is overlooked in favour of places like Teesside.

“We also need swift decision making by Government – multiple interventions of process. It is very frustrating for international inward investors who may look elsewhere if progress is not made soon.”

Darren Jones said he was pleased to hear about how best to help with the numerous inward investment opportunities available and noted part of the problem in the past has been the Treasury, noting that under Labour the Treasury would be responsible to Number 10 for their economic growth mission.

Prax General Manager Edmund Stobseth-Brown told the meeting that in March last year, everything went into limbo with their project. “Everything was now in limbo and it was not efficient to have a big project on hold, but we won’t spend huge amounts of money until there is clarity. These projects take a long time to build and we need certainty.

“We also have staffing issues in the UK, especially since Brexit, as we can’t now tap into the available labour market in Europe as we used to due to visa restrictions.”

Darren Jones agreed there were lots of strategically important areas where the labour market was quickly going into retirement. “If you have stability, you can recruit and retain staff. The 2030 clean power ambition is an aggressive target and will require Ed Milliband and the Treasury team to all push for that.”

Corinne Barry from RWE said: “Our company regularly encounters bottlenecks around policy and environmental work. We are a German-owned company and have £15-billion set aside for investment in this part of the world.

 “We have been too modest and not shouted enough about what we’ve done here. We need to shout more loudly about what we do.”

Darren Jones agreed this was a prime example of where they have money to spend and we want you to spend it. My job is to help a Labour Government to get out of the way to let business get on with the job.”

Darren Jones meeting 3

Emma Toulson highlighted how Orsted works closely with RWE around the Humber. “We were so pleased to get Hornsea 3 approved. It will be the biggest windfarm in the world, adding to the largest wind farms in the Humber. It’s a great story and is bringing great prosperity, but there are skills gaps which are an issue. These were highlighted more than a decade ago and the education providers have been great.”

 “The Humber is a key location for wind in the UK and we work closely with RWE and now have delegations from the US and China coming to see what we do in this area. We’re doing well, but could do better still.”

Humber Energy Board Chief Executive Simon Green highlighted that the Humber was being looked at as a whole and aimed to give a clear message to Government.”

Natascha Engel, from Palace Yard, said: “It was really noticeable how this area has become an international hub and is as important as the City of London. The Humber is a really important centre for energy.”

The issues around the future of steelmaking in the UK were next on the agenda, with discussions focusing on the complexities of the transition to electric arc furnaces, changing the supply chain and retaining the UK’s ability to make virgin steel for significant strategic reasons.

Able UK also raised its concerns about the future infrastructure in the Humber, noting they had £3-billion to invest, but their plans were still on hold, despite the fact it sits next to three power producers and some projects which are in the pipeline, but need to be brought forward – by years!

Chamber Chief Executive Dr Ian Kelly also highlighted the complexities of Humber devolution which in turn affect skills training and provision with regard to delivering the Department for Education’s LSIP agenda on both banks of the river, an issue mirrored elsewhere in the country.

Sir Nic Dakin, thanked the Chamber for hosting the meeting, and applauded the wide range of participants and the depth and breadth of the discussions which had provided a really helpful session with Darren. Nic said he looked forward to continuing the various conversations in the future.

Pattesons Glass Ltd
Aa Global
Gold patron
Hatfields Hull
East Riding of Yorkshire Council
Alan Boswell Insurance Brokers
Connexin Live, Hull
Andrew Jackson Solicitors LLP
Gold patron
Streets Chartered Accountants
We are My
SPS Group
University of Hull
Wilkin Chapman LLP