In another blow to Derbyshire’s economy, UK engine manufacturer Rolls-Royce has announced that a new hi-tech testing facility is likely to be built in Germany or the US.
Earlier this year, Derbyshire-based train maker Bombardier announced that it had been forced to cut its workforce by 1,400. The Canadian manufacturer lost the £1.4bn contract to produce 1,200 carriages for the Thameslink project – the Government awarded it to Siemens.
Now, Rolls-Royce has told its employees at the Derby plant that it has considered the benefits of building an aircraft engine testing plant abroad instead of in the UK, and is likely to go ahead with the move.
Derby’s local economy is closely linked with development projects, and although the announcement will not affect the existing 10,000 jobs at Rolls-Royce’s plant, people are concerned about the long-term effects of the decision.
Adrian Axtell, Unite regional secretary for the East Midlands, argued: “A significant number of jobs in Derby are linked to development projects.” He added: “Rolls-Royce, with the support of the Government, needs to do everything possible to maintain its development projects in Derby in the long term.”
In Rolls-Royce’s defence, a spokesperson confirmed that the company planned to double production of its Trent engines it produces to power the next generation of wide body planes. In a specific reference to the company’s Derby operations, the spokesperson confirmed that it will continue to produce and test its Trent XWB engines for the new Airbus A350 aircraft – launching in 2013.
“Rolls-Royce is investing billions of pounds, in the UK and around the world, so that it can keep up with customer demand and fulfil its £60 billion order book,” the Rolls-Royce spokesperson said in a statement. “This will sustain jobs at Rolls-Royce as well as in the hundreds of British companies in our supply chain,” they added.