I am pleased to say that the green jobs delivery group is co-ordinating across Government to ensure we maximise the number of jobs in green sectors. The group has wide Government representation, including the Department for Education, the Department for Work and Pensions and the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, and includes members from Siemens, RenewableUK and the Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education.
I thank the Minister for that response. He will know that South Yorkshire is fast becoming known for its green energy research. From Sheffield Hallam University’s Dext Heat Recovery project to the University of Sheffield’s Translational Energy Research Centre, there is huge potential in our region. Will the Minister look at what more he can do to work with and provide support to the South Yorkshire Mayoral Combined Authority, so that our region can become a world-leading energy innovation hub?
I thank the hon. Gentleman for his question. He is quite right to highlight the need for innovation and for keeping us at the cutting edge of science. We committed £4.2 billion to net zero research and innovation over the period from 2022 to 2025. Just last week it was my privilege to open, up in Blyth, the Digital, Autonomous and Robotics Engineering Centre. In his area, and all over the country, green jobs offer a tremendous opportunity.
Last year, I visited a home in Sydenham that has been fully retrofitted. Not only does that save bills and reduce emissions; it also creates jobs. This is something we could be rolling out now, yet the Government have spent less than 40% of the home upgrade funding pledged in 2019 to make homes more energy efficient. Will the Minister commit to actually making retrofitting a national priority, and support Labour’s plan to insulate 19 million homes by the end of this decade, creating thousands of jobs along the way?
I share the hon. Lady’s enthusiasm for improving the insulation and energy efficiency of buildings, including homes, around the country. As she will be aware, we have already transformed it for the better from the frankly dismal position in 2010, when 86% of homes—the legacy from Edward Miliband and the Labour party—were not properly insulated. By the end of this year that will be 50%, but I agree with her that we need to go further and faster, and ensure retrofitting wherever we can.
I recently had a meeting with Cranfield Aerospace Solutions, which is on track to certify a zero-emissions aircraft for passenger flight in 2026. The company is growing and has an ambition to reintroduce whole aircraft manufacturing to the UK, bringing in new jobs. The ATI—Aerospace Technology Institute—investment programme has been important in getting to this point, but, as they go beyond research and development, what more will the Government do to support ambitious companies such as Cranfield Aerospace and Hybrid Air Vehicles to manufacture the technology they have developed in Bedfordshire?
There are huge opportunities for our world-leading aerospace sector in the move towards sustainable aviation fuels. The Jet Zero Council helps to lead that work. We have set mandates to help drive take-up and ensure we are a world leader.
The Prime Minister before last, two years ago, told the country that Bridgend was going to be one of the great centres of battery manufacturing in this country, if not the world. Of course he meant Blyth, Mr Speaker, which is nowhere near Bridgend. Two years later, following the closure of the Ford factory, the people who worked in it for more than 40 years are still waiting for the UK Government to deliver on much-needed jobs across the M4 corridor. Will the Minister set out what support the Government will be offering and when they will deliver the long-anticipated battery plant for Bridgend?
What I can tell the hon. Gentleman is that the Government are working flat out to deliver that. I am looking to ensure that we strengthen the UK automotive industry as we move to zero-emissions vehicles.
Last Friday, I was fortunate enough to visit the outer Greater Gabbard wind farm array with my constituency neighbour, my hon. Friend Sir Bernard Jenkin. We sailed right out among the wind turbines. The plan is to bring the power ashore in my constituency of Clacton, but that does not make sense to me. I do not understand why the power cannot be brought ashore to the decommissioned Bradwell nuclear power station on the Dengie peninsular—no need for more pylons or substations; upgrade what is there. Will the Minister ask National Grid why it is insisting on spoiling untouched beautiful countryside in the Tendring peninsular and putting more pylons across the Essex countryside?
I think there must be a lot of green jobs if you come that way. Try and answer that, Minister.
The Government’s plans for strengthening our energy security and reaching net zero have the potential to create tens of thousands of jobs in many of our communities. Does the Minister agree that the further education sector has a crucial role to play in unlocking new roles in engineering, technical and project management? The list goes on. Will he join me in commending Pembrokeshire College in my constituency, which is already working with floating offshore wind developers who are looking to bring new operations to the Celtic sea? They are showing the way forward in developing those new skills.
I congratulate Pembrokeshire College. It is so important to have the skills in place. That is what the green jobs delivery group is all about. Industry is working to make sure that we have the data on the forward expectations of need. That way, the Department for Education, through FE colleges and other institutions, can ensure that people have the right skills so that as much of the supply chain as possible for developing sectors such as floating offshore wind is here in the UK.
Stoke-on-Trent North, Kidsgrove and Talke are proud to be home to one of the largest European deep coalmine sites at Chatterley Whitfield Colliery, which has huge potential in geothermal. That is already being explored at Etruria. Will my hon. Friend meet me, Chatterley Whitfield Colliery Friends, Historic England and Stoke-on-Trent City Council, to see what green jobs can be created at that former colliery site, to bring it back into use with a green future?
I am being barracked by my Front-Bench colleagues, which is unusual even for me. I would be delighted to accept my hon. Friend’s kind offer.