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UK chemical industry seeks support for expansion from Government

16 July 2013

On July 10, the UK chemical industry handed to Government an interim report on how the sector can grow by 50% in less than two decades. The report was put together by the Chemistry Growth Strategy Group (CGSG), which was set up to examine how the chemical industry can continue to prosper in the current economic and industrial climate. 

CGSG business leaders presented the report, Strategy for Delivering Chemistry-fuelled Growth of the UK Economy, at a meeting with Michael Fallon, Minister of State for Business and Enterprise.

The report calls for rapid exploitation of shale gas, accelerating innovation and rebuilding UK chemistry supply chains. These interim findings are in advance of the official launching of the strategy in the autumn.

The industrialists were led by Keith Wiggins of Dow Chemical, also the president of the Chemical Industries Association.

He said "This reports shows the criticality of the chemical and chemistry-using industry to the UK economy". Business Minister Michael Fallon said "I welcome this report as an important contribution to our overall industrial strategy. I look forward to the autumn when the full report will be formally launched".

In order to continue to be a ‘backbone’ of UK industry, the CGSC calls for a partnership to be set up between the industry and government to tackle three major priorities.

The first priority of the Chemical Growth Partnership (CGP) is to secure competitive energy and feedstock supplies. The report says that this could include ensuring the development of unconventional gas resources, such as shale gas, the use of biofuels and the use of waste products. There should be help for industry to undertake projects to prove the commercial viability of shale gas, and to carry out research into CCS.

The second priority is to accelerate innovation in the sector. The government has already established world class, open-access innovation centres in various fields including sustainable chemistry, industrial biotechnology and materials, and the report recommends that guidance be given to the chemical industry on how to use these resources more effectively. In addition, it recommends that another innovation centre for advanced formulated product design be set up.

The third is that the CPG must rebuild UK chemistry supply chains, which have been eroded in recent years as companies have sought to buy cheaper supplies overseas. This should include focusing on small and medium enterprises (SMEs), which are more agile, and encouraging clustering to take advantage of economies of scale.




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