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UK Government spearheads £54m Investment to Revive Merseyside’s Historic Glass Industry

UK Government spearheads £54m investment to revive Merseyside's historic glass industry

The Liverpool City Region will benefit from £54 million investment to revitalise its glass industry and support the region’s economic recovery.

  • £54 million funding will develop a glass R&D facility in St Helens, reviving the region’s historic glass production industry
  • Investment will go towards developing innovative green technologies to help make glass production more productive and environmentally-friendly
  • Funding is latest step in helping industry reduce their emissions and build back greener from coronavirus  

The funding will be used to establish a state-of-the-art glass furnace R&D facility in St Helens, reviving the closed United Glass facility. The plant will be capable of producing 30 tonnes of sustainable glass a day – equivalent to 60,000 wine bottles – which will be used in products such as jars, bottles, windows, doors, and fibre glass.

Of the £54 million package investment to revive the local industry, £15 million is direct investment from the UK Government as part of UK Research and Innovation (UKRI)’s Transforming Foundation Industries Challenge. The remaining funding is being provided by Liverpool City Region Combined Authority, St Helens Borough Council and Glass Futures, a not-for-profit organisation. 

Energy Minister Kwasi Kwarteng said: 

“Merseyside has a long and rich history in glass manufacturing, and so I am pleased that this £54m investment – including £15m Government funding – will launch a new era in highly efficient, low-carbon glass production. 

“This new funding will build on our commitment to cut emissions across heavy industry, create green collar jobs on Merseyside and help us to build back greener.” 

Metro Mayor of the Liverpool City Region Steve Rotheram said:

“This project is a prime example of how we can build on our strengths as a city region to drive our economic recovery. St Helens has always been a global leader in the glass industry and Glass Futures will be a key part of making sure it retains that role in the future of the industry as it decarbonises, whilst being a key driver for jobs and skills.

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“Taking Glass Futures forward is a prime example of the kind of partnership that the Combined Authority, our local authorities, Government, the private sector, and academia can forge to create world class facilities in our city region and Build Back Better from Covid-19.”

The Government’s £15 million investment will be used to buy specialist equipment to improve energy and resource efficiency, research alternative raw materials, and boost productivity and training.

Initial building design work for the factory has already commenced, funded by St Helens Borough Council. Following completion of the design and winning of planning approval, construction is planned to start in 2021.

Today’s funding follows on from July’s announcement of £350 million to cut emissions in heavy industry and accelerate the UK’s economic recovery. The multi million-pound investment is playing a vital role in helping businesses to decarbonise across the heavy industry, construction, space and transport sectors and to secure the UK’s place at the forefront of green innovation.

Other contributors to St Helen’s glass project include:

  • Alongside UKRI funding and the support of St Helens Borough Council, landowner and developer Network Space;
  • Liverpool City Region Combined Authority, which is aiming to provide a further £9m for works to make the building suitable; and
  • Glass sector companies will contribute a further £20m of funding resulting in a total investment of £54m

Leader of St Helens Borough Council, Councillor David Baines, said:

“Given our proud heritage and history in glassmaking, it’s only fitting that St Helens borough is fully involved in the future of the industry. Glass Futures will see global innovation, training and research and development happen here in our borough, with the potential to drive further economic growth.

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“We are delighted to see this vital project getting a further £15m in backing from UK Research and Innovation along with support from ourselves, Liverpool City Region Combined Authority and the glass industry to make this vision become a reality.

“This development will rejuvenate a brownfield site which has a history in glass manufacturing, and I am sure that Glass Futures will prove to be a catalyst for further investment in a place that has always been a world leader in the glass industry.”

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