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‘Green Targets May Force Manufacturing Jobs Abroad’

CERAMICS production and jobs could be forced abroad if the Government fails to provide a level playing field on emissions. That was the message from Tunstall manufacturer Johnson Tiles and trade association the British Ceramic Confederation (BCC) as members of the House of Commons Environmental Audit Select Committee visited Stoke-on-Trent.

Stoke-on-Trent North MP Joan Walley, who chairs the committee, and Sheryll Murray, below, the Conservative MP for South East Cornwall, toured the Johnson Tiles factory in Harewood Street yesterday to find out how the UK’s carbon-cutting targets could hit the region’s ceramics industry.

The BCC has raised concerns that pottery firms, which use a lot of gas and electricity to fire kilns, could be disproportionately affected by Government climate change policies which aim to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 80 per cent from 1990 levels by 2050.

Johnson Tiles managing director Stephen Dixon said: “We’ve spent a lot of money on energy efficiency and we’ve got a world-class plant. Now we need a level playing field on imported carbon versus carbon produced in the UK.

“If we don’t, all that’s going to happen is an export of jobs and an import of carbon.

“It’s very easy to set targets but you have to balance that against UK production. In fairness the select committee has been supportive; the challenge is to get a wider audience within the Government.”

Mr Dixon said the firm has already been hit hard by spiralling energy costs.

He added: “The increases people have seen at home are consistent with what we have experienced and when you consider the scale of our consumption that is huge.”

BCC chief executive Dr Laura Cohen said the carbon costs of producing goods abroad before they are imported into the UK should now be included in the UK’s emissions targets.

She said: “Firms like Johnson Tiles are internationally competitive and we want to keep it that way.”

The committee was visiting Johnson Tiles after publication of its report on the UK’s fourth carbon budget, which commits the country to halving carbon emissions by 2023-2027 compared with 1990.

Dr Cohen said that will lead to a “horrendous burden” of “crippling” energy taxes and costs.

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