New Tory party chair pledges to be ‘a voice’ in Government for Sheffield hydrogen specialist

The new chair of the Conservative party said a Sheffield hydrogen specialist was a “a great business creating great skilled jobs” and she would urge ministers to continue backing the company.

Monday, 24th February 2020, 11:29 am
Updated Tuesday, 25th February 2020, 10:02 am

Amanda Milling toured ITM Power and said she would use her new position to be a voice for the firm in Westminster.

Last week the government granted £7.5m to a project led by the company to create hydrogen from North Sea wind farms for an oil refinery on the Humber. It has also, with the EU, paid for eight ITM refuelling stations in London and connected the firm with wind farm giant Orsted.

ITM Power is building the world’s largest electrolyser factory in Darnall after a £58.8m investment from gas giant Linde.

Sign up to our Business newsletter

Sign up to our Business newsletter

Conservative party chair Amanda Milling MP and ITM Power chief executive Graham Cooley at the firm’s hydrogen car refuelling station on the Advanced Manufacturing Park in Rotherham.

Amanda Milling is a Staffordshire MP who was appointed chair of the party in the latest government reshuffle.

She said she had learned how much scope there was to use hydrogen in cars, buses and trains to help meet legislation requiring the UK to be ‘net carbon zero’ by 2050.

She added: “I’ll be going back to Westminster and asking government and ministers to engage with ITM Power. We lead the world in green technology.”

The company employs 200, is advertising six jobs and last year attracted more than £90m funding.

A wind turbine powering ITM Power's hydrogen refuelling station at the AMP.

Chief executive Graham Cooley said he thought the government was on a mission to understand where the important companies were for the ‘energy transition’.

He added: “We are always very pleased to get the recognition that we are doing something important.”

As well as BEIS funding, two government initiatives had given the firm a boost, he added: the net carbon zero law and a ban on the sale of petrol and diesel cars by 2035, or possibly 2032.

He also said the new joint venture with Orsted and refinery firm Phillips 66 wasn’t the first time a government grant had helped ITM Power team up with a major industrial company.

Conservative party chair Amanda Milling MP and ITM Power chief executive Graham Cooley at the firm’s hydrogen car refuelling station on the Advanced Manufacturing Park in Rotherham.

“What government does is catalyse large companies to work with SMEs.”

On her visit to Sheffield Ms Milling also attended a round table with SMEs on crime and visited Forgemasters in Brightside.

She added: “Business is really important, they create jobs. I saw great businesses creating great skilled jobs.”

But she declined to address fears that Brexit could damage commerce due to the end of freedom of movement, potential tariff and non-tariff barriers, new regulations and border checks.

Ms Milling called for bosses to “be positive.”

“Brexit gives the country and government choices around how to fund innovation and success…We had predictions business was going to suffer after 2016 but it didn’t bear out. We should be positive about the future economically.”