There's work taking place inside this closed Hull energy plant - and it gives a lot of hope

By Hull Daily Mail | Posted: 13 Dec 2018

It has been almost three months since Vivergo Fuels announced it was closing down its £350m biofuel plant at Saltend.

Fingers were pointed at the Government at the time for its “inaction over the future of renewable fuels”, as campaigns for the backing of E10 blended petrol rumble on.

Vivergo employed around 150 people at its Saltend plant but what has happened to the site since it closed down in September? The owners of the chemicals park, PX Group, have revealed the answer.

Jay Brooks, site director at Saltend, said: “Although Vivergo Fuels ceased production at its plant on Saltend Chemicals Park in the autumn, due to market conditions, it is being maintained by a reduced workforce, so that if the situation changes, production can be resumed.

“For our part, we continue to support site partners, operating as normal.”

So it seems all hope may not in fact be lost for Vivergo Fuels.

Vivergo Fuels site at Saltend Chemical Park. (Darren Casey)

The improved market conditions referred to by Mr Brooks could hinge on formal government backing of E10 – an ethanol-based biofuel which is already commonplace in petrol forecourts across European countries such as France, Germany and Finland.

Read more: The massive impact of Vivergo Fuels closure will be felt further than Hull - this is what it all means

In the UK however, progress is slow.

In June, a campaign calling on the UK government to support the introduction E10 was launched, and was backed by Vivergo.

Speaking about the campaign at the time, Mark Chesworth, managing director at Vivergo, said: “The BE10%GOOD campaign focuses on addressing a big issue with a simple solution.

“If we could improve vehicle emissions without changing anything we do in our daily lives, surely that would be a good thing.”

Read more: Vivergo Fuels is closing for good with the loss of 150 jobs

Vivergo contributed around £600m a year to the country’s economy.

More than 900 farms across Yorkshire supplied the plant with over 1.1m tonnes of feed wheat, and the disappearance of Vivergo was reported to have a possible impact on as many as 3,000 jobs.

Mr Chesworth hit out at the Government in September, for its “lack of pace over the past decade” of introducing E10 fuel.

He said: “We have created a highly skilled and world-class business that had the opportunity to be part of a British sustainable biofuels industry.

“But sadly, the government’s lack of pace over the past decade to introduce E10 has further undermined our ability to operate.”

It is reassuring to hear though, that Vivergo’s plant at Saltend is being maintained, and that if market conditions do become more favourable, production could one day resume at what was once a landmark opening in the city.

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