The Ceramic and Brick Industry Debate
Westminster Hall, Wednesday 15th June 2016,4:30pm
Wendy Morton MP
Employing approximately 20,000 people in the UK, generating £2 Billion in sales and exporting all over the world. The ceramics Industry is undoubtedly one of huge importance to Great Britain. In Aldridge-Brownhills there has been a large ceramic presence in the area since the early 19th Century when clay and coal mining boomed in the district. Jobs in mining resulted in a population surge in Aldridge to 2,478 by 1901, and by 1906 two of the mines known locally as ‘Drybread’ near Coppice Road and ‘Bare Bones’ at Leighswood together employed nearly 1,500 men. The Brownhills Miner, a 40ft statue standing at the end of Brownhills High Street is a wonderful reflection of our proud industrial past.
Some of the most famous clay products in the world originate in Aldridge-Brownhills. Most recently the clay for Paul Cummins’, stunning art installation “Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red” (the poppies which were installed at the tower of London) came from the Potclays plant in Brownhills.
However, the ceramics industry is approaching a worrying period.
The EU’s proposals for phase four of the Emissions Trading System suggesting a target of at least a 40% reduction in domestic greenhouse gas emissions by 2030. A key issue for the ceramics sector surrounds “Carbon Leakage” notably the evaluation of industries to be either deemed at risk of Carbon Leakage, or not.
Some heavy clay industries will not meet the threshold for carbon leakage and therefore will be needing to purchase significantly more allowances. There is the possibility that some of the heavy clay producers in my constituency may have to buy all their carbon allowance after 2021, this will place a huge economic burden on an industry who’s energy costs already account for around 30% of their overall costs.
The ceramics industry is one of those most vulnerable to overcapacity within the Chinese Economy. If market economy status is conferred on China by the EU it will make the maintenance of the anti-dumping measures currently protecting tiles and tableware extremely unlikely. The progress the industry has made since 2011 will be lost and the industry put once again at risk if MES is conferred. The Government need to make an assessment on the impacts of Market economy status for China and the ceramics industry.
We cannot as a county decarbonise, by deindustrialising and shifting our carbon emissions to another part of the world. It is time for Government to look seriously at this issue, so that the industry can thrive and prosper.