Work on £100m paint plant set to begin before the year is out

PLANS to build a £100m paint-making plant in Ashington have been approved.

Northumberland County Council’s south east area planning committee last week gave AkzoNobel the go-ahead for the plant at Ashwood Business Park, off Oakwood Way.

One of the biggest manufacturing investments made in the region in recent years, the Amsterdam-based multinational firm’s 112m-by-150m plant will also include an office, storage and distribution areas.

Building work is set to begin on the 10-hectare site later this year and is expected to be completed in 2014.

The new plant will replace the firm’s current factory at Eltringham, near Prudhoe.

It is expected to have a staff of about 140, including more than half the 90 workers currently employed at the Tyne Valley factory.

The committee only received one letter of objection to the proposals, from Thomas Phillips, of North Seaton, raising concerns about fire safety and the potential environmental impact the plant could have on the surrounding area.

Barrie Crowther, of Cramlington Eastfield, voiced similar worries at the committee’s meeting at Choppington Social Welfare Centre.

“I have some concerns about the issues of fire and safety,” said Coun Crowther.

“What I am looking for is some reassurance that there is an environmental protection scheme on solvent emissions.”

That did not stop his colleagues from approving the application, however, on condition that an odour control scheme is put in place at the plant.

Wansbeck MP Ian Lavery welcomed the decision, saying the plant will give a huge boost to the economy of south east Northumberland.

“This massive £100m investment by AkzoNobel in Ashington is to be warmly welcomed,” said Mr Lavery.

“The new hi-tech manufacturing plant will bring much-needed jobs to the town, providing job opportunities for local people.

“Unemployment rates are high, and we need every single job we can get in Ashington.

“I hope AkzoNobel’s decision to locate here will encourage other companies to follow suit.

“I look forward to them being a significant employer in the town for many years to come.”

AkzoNobel is the largest manufacturer of paints and decorative coatings in the world.

Its brands include household names such as Dulux, Hammerite, Polycell and Cuprinol.

The firm runs operations in more than 80 countries, employing 55,000 staff, including 4,100 in the UK.

Its director for the UK, Guy Williams, pictured, said: “Receiving planning permission is another step along our timeline towards 2014, allowing us to start building on this new world-class facility.

“This investment highlights the importance of the north-east to AkzoNobel’s operations, placing the region at the heart of our UK manufacturing business for the long term.”