Friday, 17 June 2011

Spade Ready!

On Radio Cleveland BBC Tees this morning there was a report about 400 new jobs coming to Tesside by the construction of a bio-refinery to produce around 150,000 tonnes per year of bioethanol, which is enough to run 1.5 million family cars running on E10 petrol. The finished INEOS plant would employ around 50 and the other 350 jobs would be in the construction phase.

Sounds like good news. The firm got £7.3 Million from One North East to get the project rolling and they have completed all the necessary feasibility studies, obtained planning permission, carried out environmental impact assessments, traffic assessments, great crest newt threat surveys, badger and bat watch and confirmed there are no rare or endanger species of plant or animal on the site. They are now, and this was the phrase he used on the radio, "Spade Ready" which means they can start construction as soon as they have the funding in place.

The BBC Tees reported asked how much more did they need? After all they had already had £7.3 Million pounds. Well the plant INEOS are building in Florida is costing around $130 Million so if the UK government kicks in £100 Million then that should be enough to see the construction started. Sounds like a fantastic deal to me! Hand over £100 Million to a private company in return for 50 jobs. The private company then get the revenue the plant generates for the rest of its operating life. That's even worse value for money than the public sector.

A new hospital in Hartlepool could be built for around £100 Million and would employ considerably more than 50 people! Why not use the £100 Million to build the hospital and let INEOS raise the cash through venture capital or sale of shares? Isn't that how it used to work? Public money built public facilities like schools and hospitals and private equity built shops, offices and factories. That seems to be turned upside down these days, public facilities are built with private money but private firms get public money in the form of "grants" to fund their businesses.

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