Fate of plans to create a Virtual Ceramics Sustainability Hub still unknown
The British Ceramic Confederation (BCC) is not hopeful that money has been earmarked to support the creation of a Virtual Ceramics Sustainability Hub (VCSH), given no specific mention of it was made in the Spending Review.
The UK ceramics industry wants to work collectively to develop and deploy a large portfolio of decarbonisation technologies, at pace, to meet the challenges of the 2050 net zero target.
More than 75% of the sector provided letters of support for the Spending Review Proposal. BCC had asked initially for £5 million in 2022/3, as the first part of a phased £65 million scheme over a three-year spending period, matched by companies, for a full package of measures. The proposed Hub, that would be based in Stoke-on-Trent, would act as a catalyst for further investment across the supply chain.
The sector is dispersed across the UK, away from London in areas in need of ‘levelling up’. Almost all sites are located off the Government’s designated hydrogen and Carbon Capture, Utilisation and Storage (CCUS) industrial clusters and most manufacturers are SMEs, which is why focussed funding is needed.
British Ceramic Confederation Chief Executive Dr Laura Cohen said: “We are now talking with officials to confirm whether some elements of our proposal might be contained in the detail of the UK Research and Innovation or Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy settlements, but we are unlikely to have clarity for several weeks.
“This is disappointing ahead of COP26, as with the right support, the UK ceramics sector and its supply chain has the potential to become a global leader in low-carbon, sustainable manufacturing technologies.
“The Chancellor has said that innovation is a route to growth. The Ceramic sector remains ready to play its part, but we need the Government to step up too.”
The Government’s Industrial Decarbonisation Strategy requires emissions to reduce by at least two-thirds by 2035 and by at least 90 per cent by 2050 compared with 2018 levels, without pushing emissions and business abroad.
Laura added, “Government has said this must happen while keeping manufacturing businesses within the UK. Government needs to meet their promise by delivering practical and timely outcomes that support our ceramics industry on this very challenging journey.
“We will continue to engage positively with the Government. The sector is really feeling left behind compared with other UK energy intensive and industrial sectors on practical and tangible help to improve international competitiveness on so many current and future energy and carbon issues.”
Notes to editors
The British Ceramic Confederation is the trade association for the UK ceramic manufacturing industry, representing the common and collective interests of all sectors of the industry. Its members companies cover the full spectrum of ceramic manufacturing, including the supply of materials, and comprise more than 90 per cent of the industry’s manufacturing capacity.
The industry employs 17,500 people directly, with a £1.6bn turnover and more than £500 million in exports. The sector supplies a diverse range of customers, with construction, particularly housing, being the largest.
To decarbonise by 2050, companies need access to low carbon compatible infrastructure and equipment before supporting policy frameworks are in place by 2025 at the latest, given that a kiln has a typical operating lifetime of 25 to 40 years.
British Ceramic Confederation, Federation House, Station Road, Stoke-on-Trent, ST4 2SA. www.ceramfed.co.uk
For more information contact Judith Sanders, Communications Manager, JudithS@Ceramfed.co.uk 07535 084055