You can read Sharon's latest Echo Column below or on the Sunderland Echo website
I can’t imagine many people in the region missed the news coming from Nissan last week, and rightly so.
This three-headline announcement has the potential to transform our country’s automotive industry and is an incredible vote of confidence in our region’s world-class workforce.
Firstly, Sunderland will move full throttle towards its aim of being a carbon-free city by 2040, providing green jobs and clean energy with the construction of a ‘microgrid’.
This microgrid will then power a Gigafactory, which will be producing batteries for electric vehicles as we race towards the 2030 ban on the sale of petrol and diesel cars.
And finally, to match the increasing demand for electric vehicles, Nissan have announced their next electric model will be built in Sunderland.
This collaboration between Nissan, AESC Envision, and Sunderland City Council, with support from the Government, is a result of incredible hard work.
But let’s not forget, the automotive industry was pushed to a cliff edge last year awaiting Boris Johnson’s Brexit deal which came through at the very last minute.
The deal emphasised the necessity for a domestic battery-manufacturing industry which for years has been highlighted by Nissan, local stakeholders and in Parliament by myself and colleagues, in order to meet the 2030 electrification goal and the moving goalposts of the UK-EU trade deal.
The Gigafactory commitment is therefore a massive sigh of relief for us all, and will pioneer the way ahead for British batteries.
The Sunderland plant has truly been certified as the jewel in the Nissan crown, with our region reaping the economic and employment rewards. In the North East, we all know people employed by Nissan or its supply chain, so we should all be very proud that their hard work has brought us here.
I will continue to showcase our automotive superpower in Parliament; a job that will be significantly easier after last week’s announcement.
Following today's statement by Nissan (01.07.21) please see below Sharon's statement:
"I am thrilled with Nissan’s announcements which have the potential to transform car-making in the UK.
"Nissan’s confidence to make their next electric vehicle model in Sunderland is testament to the incredible skill of our region’s world-class workforce, and certifies the Sunderland plant’s position as the jewel in the Nissan crown.
"Having worked closely with Nissan to raise in Parliament the necessity of investment in battery technology for the long-term success of operations, I am delighted to see firm commitment with the announcement of a local Gigafactory.
"This is a massive sigh of relief for us all and will help the UK as we move through complex trading arrangements towards the 2030 electrification goal, as well as bringing a further 6,200 high quality jobs across the whole supply chain.
"I will continue to work closely with Nissan to help build and support a localised supply chain for components, so that tariff-free trade can continue in the coming years.
"This announcement is also testament to Sunderland City Council’s dedication to becoming a city of the future, providing green energy, green jobs and green investment.
"This collaboration between Sunderland Council, Nissan, Envision AESC with support from the Government will ensure that Nissan stays on the map as a global automotive superpower, with our region reaping the rewards.
"The North-East fuelled the industrial revolution with coal, and 200 years later we are taking a leading role in the development of the green revolution with our automotive giant - we should all be very proud."
At Prime Minister’s Questions on 13th January 2016, Sharon pressed the Prime Minister to reconsider the decision by the Energy Secretary last year to scrap Renewables Obligation Certificates which will be detrimental to the planned investment of £3 million for the windfarm at the Nissan Factory at the Turbine Industrial Park in Sunderland.
Image copyright Parliamentary Recording Unit 2016
This comes ahead of the House of Commons debating the 2nd Reading of the Government’s Energy Bill on Monday 18th January 2016, where the general principles of the Bill will be debated.
Sharon called on the Prime Minister to rectify the decision from last year and the negative effect this will have on pro-green businesses, like Nissan.
An amendment to introduce a ‘grace period’ for projects already in the pipeline was rejected when the Energy Bill was considered in the House of Lords, but there are now moves to see this amendment re-introduced during the Commons’ stages of the Bill.
The full exchange between Sharon and the Prime Minister can be seen below, or read here in the Official Hansard.
In her question to the Prime Minister, Sharon asked:
Last year the Energy Secretary scrapped support under the Renewables Obligation for new onshore wind projects, which will impact the £3 million investment by Nissan at their windfarm in my constituency. Does the Prime Minister realise that his attacks on clean energy are detrimental to pro-green businesses, like Nissan, and will he look into this immediately and rectify it in the Energy Bill next week?
To which the Prime Minister responded:
We had extensive exchanges about this in the Liaison Committee yesterday, and I can tell the hon. Lady that we are going to see another 50% increase in onshore wind investment during this Parliament. Also, Britain has the biggest offshore wind market anywhere in the world. The Leader of the Opposition raised the question of solar. Britain has the fourth largest solar installation of any country anywhere in the world. Indeed, my new favourite statistic is that 98% of those solar panels have been installed since I was Prime Minister. This is all good news, and it means that we have a genuine claim to be leading a renewables revolution. However, every single subsidy that is given to these technologies is extra money that we put on to people’s bills, making their energy more expensive. So it is right that we seek a balance between decarbonising our economy and making sure we do it at a low cost to our consumers and the people who pay the bills. That is what our policy is all about.
Commenting after the Prime Minister’s response, Sharon said:
“The Prime Minister again has used his hot-air rhetoric to deflect from the arguments regarding the future of clean energy here in the UK and has ignored the wealth of support from pro-green businesses, such as Nissan here in Sunderland to invest in clean energy.
“With businesses, like Nissan, wanting to invest in the future of our energy infrastructure and security, it is concerning that the Prime Minister and his ministers have scrapped support that will be detrimental to this investment.
“That is why in the upcoming Energy Bill, I hope that Government ministers will seriously reconsider their short-sighted actions that will affect businesses, consumers and our environment alike.”