Round 3 projects selected for Regional Growth Fund

Posted on 22 Oct 2012

Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg announced that 130 bids have been selected under Round 3 of the Regional Growth Fund initiative and will receive a conditional allocation from £1.05bn of extra funding.

The Regional Growth Fund aims to boost growth across England by financing innovative projects developed by manufacturers, small businesses and Local Enterprise Partnerships.

Successful bidders from the manufacturing sector include Caterpillar Peterlee, AstraZeneca, Bentley Motors and Pentagon Chemicals.

Mr Clegg said: “This £1 billion boost for growth in towns and cities across England is creating jobs that will last in the parts of the country that need it most.”

Cumbria-based James Cropper plc, the paper and advanced materials group, is one of the companies selected to receive a portion of the Government investment. It was granted £3.15m that will support a proposed innovative energy plant at Burneside.

The funding will underpin a £7m investment in the development of a steam raising plant that will significantly reduce the manufacturer’s energy costs, CO2 emissions, and rising environmental taxes.

The plant will consume a mixture of solid recovered fuel (SRF) produced by sustainable waste management specialist Shanks from Cumbrian municipal waste, and the company’s own paper-making effluent residues. SRF, which is approximately 50% biomass in content, is currently underutilised due to lack of appropriate proven technology – a gap which the project intends to fill.

This could have wide ranging benefits for other energy intensive industries seeking to transition away from fossil fuels.

The company has been trying to get the project off the ground since 2005, but despite receiving planning permission in 2009, its efforts have been thwarted by high costs and lack of suitable technology and suppliers.

Chairman Mark Cropper said: “The need for the plant, which will supplement our gas fired CHP plant, has only grown more pressing. Energy costs are rising and the global competitiveness of our business and other British energy intensive manufacturers is being further impaired by new UK carbon taxation policies. Delay and relief of such tax policies are vital to maintain competitive costs, however the transition to new forms of energy is more critical than ever, so the RGF support could not be more welcome.”

e2v, the designer and developer of solutions for high performance systems, is another successful bidder. It was awarded a £3.8m grant that will support growth of the company’s space imaging business.

The project will build on e2v’s expertise in imaging devices for space exploration and earth observation for the world’s largest space agencies, to further advance its imaging technologies and move into the broader management and supply of imaging and control sub-systems and solutions.

It is anticipated that it will create 130 new jobs at e2v and a further 30 jobs with e2v’s partners over the next three years.

e2v was also a successful bidder in Round 1 of the RGF awards. Keith Attwood, CEO of e2v, commented “Funding through the RGF is playing an important role in enabling and accelerating our development projects and shows genuine commitment on behalf of the government in supporting manufacturing and sustainable high level job creation in the UK.”

Progress continues on Rounds 1 and 2 within the Government funding scheme: over 90% of projects and programmes have now started.