INEOS chief rules out building new £650 million car factory – with creation of 10,000 new Scots jobs – at Grangemouth refinery in fracking stand-off with Scot-Govt.

Jim Ratcliffe
Jim Ratcliffe

(YET ANOTHER) EXCLUSIVE by Scottish Energy News

The chairman of the company which owns the Grangemouth petro-chemical refinery is narrowing down his choice of locations to build a new 4×4 ‘Land Rover’-style car manufacturing plant.

But despite INEOS owning land aplenty around its Scottish refinery – and the prospect of low-cost aluminium body parts from a Scot-Govt-supported hydro-powered smelter just a few miles up the A9 – the new £650 million factory won’t be built in Scotland.

This is because the minority SNP-led Scot-Govt. has imposed a ‘temporary’ moratorium on exploring for onshore oil and gas in Scotland – despite it being encouraged in England.

Twice, independent expert scientific reports commissioned by the Scot-Govt have concluded that onshore exploration (aka ‘fracking’) can be safely carried out within existing – and/or enhanced – public health and safety rules.

INEOS has won PEDL licences (petroleum exploration and development) from the Brit-Govt but the Scot-Govt moratorium prevents any exploration licence applications being accepted by local authorities.

Meanwhile, Jim Ratcliffe, Executive Chairman of INEOS, has announced that he has narrowed his choice of possible locations for the new 4×4 automative car plant to three locations – one of which is in Tyneside in northern England. The other two options are in the EU mainland.

He said: “Ideally we would like to build it in the UK, because certainly I have a bit of a passion for UK manufacturing.

“But we’ve had quite a number of offerings from the continent where there are existing facilities which we can use, where they are stepping up their game a bit and they have these empty facilities.”

Codenamed ‘Projekt Grenadier’, the new INEOS car factory would create 1,000 directly-employed high-skilled jobs in Scotland – plus an additional 9,000 jobs among suppliers.

Projekt Grenadier would focus on off-road vehicles, with a number of different models, including a pick-up truck. Ratcliffe added: “The Land Rover was one of the world’s greatest cars, certainly one of the best off-road vehicles in the world and it leaves a gaping hole in the marketplace because there’s nothing that fills that hole.”

In the 1980s – back when the Brit-Govt had a UK ‘regional’ manufacturing policy – it supported the creation of the Hillman Imp car plant in Renfrew because of the number and quality of Scottish jobs it created.

The Scot-Govt. did not reply to a request to comment on INEOS’ automotive plan. The Scottish Energy Minister has vowed to give Holyrood MPs another vote in parliament on onshore oil and gas exploration before Christmas this year.

20 Sept 2017

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