July 13, 2024

Aluminium giant’s £35m pledge boosts North East Wales Investment Zone campaign

Wrexham Hydro Ashley Rogers Chief Executive North Wales Business Council, Joanne Swash Group CEO Moneypenny, Wayne Clifton MD Norsk Hydro. Wrexham and Mark Pritchard Cllr Mark Pritchard Leader of Wrexham Council

Global aluminium recycling giant Hydro is planning a £35m investment in its Wrexham plant, potentially creating 30 new jobs.

The expansion by Hydro, which will increase the plant’s recycling capacity to over 100,000 tons a year, was discussed at a campaign event to help secure an £80 million Investment Zone for Wrexham and Flintshire.

The Norwegian-owned company was hosting a visit by members of the steering group leading the drive for Investment Zone status.

The consortium includes the North Wales Business Council, Wrexham and Flintshire councils, Wrexham University and the Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre in Broughton, and is chaired by Joanna Swash, Group Chief Executive Officer of Wrexham-based outsourced communications provider Moneypenny.

Investment Zones already exist in parts of England where £80 million in funding for each Zone will be used for innovation, infrastructure and skills and training projects in the sectors being targeted.

According to Wayne Clifton, Hydro Wrexham’s Managing Director at its 10-acre site on Wrexham Industrial Estate, being part of an Investment Zone would be a big boost to its expansion plans.

“Increasing our capacity here in Wrexham will enable us to meet increased customer demand for low-carbon aluminium. Every year, around one million tonnes of post-consumer aluminium scrap leaves Europe. Scrap being our raw material, it’s important to ensure we keep it in Europe and UK. This investment will ensure that more post-consumer scrap is kept in the loop and processed here at home,” Clifton says.

In addition to its direct labour force in Wrexham, the company also supports 2,000 sub-contractor hours a month.

The business has now submitted the first of two planning applications to Wrexham County Borough Council to expand the operation, enabling it to process more scrap aluminium which would otherwise be sent overseas.

The plant currently processes up to 150 tonnes of scrap aluminium a day which is mainly sold to the construction and the automotive industries.

Wayne Clifton said: “We see increasing interest from customers in the UK to buy Hydro’s low-carbon aluminium, particularly within the automotive, transport, and buildings and construction sectors. That is why we are planning an investment in our Wrexham plant increasing the aluminium recycling capacity to more than 100,000 tonnes per year.”

“The importance of the Investment Zone is that it will mean improved supply chains and transport networks and an increasingly well-trained workforce that will enable us to move fast when market conditions change and that has been one of the challenges for us”.

Wrexham Council Leader Cllr Mark Pritchard has been a leading light of the campaign for a joint Wrexham Flintshire Investment Zone.

He said: “The Wrexham Industrial Estate is hugely important as regards employment, regeneration and development.

“We have so many global names like Hydro here and so many bespoke small companies and it’s important we have the support of both the Government in Westminster and in Cardiff to make Wrexham and Flintshire one of two Investment Zones in Wales.

“We’re all on the same page and working hard with businesses on our bid which recognises the importance of this status and is both ambitious and inspirational.

“Looking at Hydro here this is a modern site and they recognise the importance of carbon footprint and recycling and what they’re doing here is fantastic and we want to help them increase that.

“They are looking to expand here in Wrexham and we will do everything we can to help them.

“They and others have realised that we’re in a fantastic location here with good transport links and a high quality workforce and there are lots of companies that want to come here and that’s good news for jobs here and importantly for the quality of jobs.

“We do have challenges however and that’s where the Investment Zone comes in.”

Chair of the Investment Zone Steering Group for Wrexham Flintshire and Group CEO of Moneypenny, Joanna Swash said: “Hydro are making a massive investment in developing their site and this sends a positive signal to the UK and Welsh Governments about North East Wales.

“This is a great place to do business and Investment Zone status would encourage further growth and investment with the £80 million in funding that supports each Zone.

“It would help protect the 30,000 manufacturing jobs that are already here and create thousands more in an area that is a cornerstone of advanced manufacturing in the UK.

“IZ status would increase economic activity and boost confidence in the local community, create huge numbers of highly-skilled, well-paid jobs and show our young people that there are a wide range of excellent career options on their doorstep.

“It would also lead to improved infrastructure, transport and investment in skills and training, along with innovation in the kind of technologies that are so important for the future, not just in terms of manufacturing but in creative and digital sectors also.”