The brick spoke volumes

20th Nov 2023


Last week I attended the East Coast Hydrogen Delivery Plan launch.

Amongst the headlines from this project were the 12 million tonnes of carbon dioxide avoided each year from the industrial, commercial and power sectors as well as the £29 billion Gross Value Added, with 360,000 jobs created and protected.

There were some great presentations from industrial users of gas, from Liberty Steel to East Midlands Airport and that great British icon, Rolls Royce. But for me, a house brick stole the show. It wasn’t the “East Coast H2” mould the brick was fired in but the very simple message about the future of businesses up and down the land. And the contrast with the recent naïve musings of the National Infrastructure Commission could not have been starker.

Forterra, the brick maker, made the case that they need high temperature kilns to make bricks. To convert to electricity, if it could be done would be too expensive and disruptive. And in a snub to the NIC’s view of the world, they cannot move their business to an industrial cluster to benefit from hydrogen gas because it is based where the clay to make the bricks comes out of the ground. They need the gas to be piped to them. They need a gas distribution network.

Without it, the business will close, the jobs lost and we’ll have no locally made bricks that we need to build the houses all politicians want. If proof were ever needed that the NIC is out of touch, this was it. To them, businesses and people are like pieces on a board game, to be moved wherever suits. To the work force, to consumers, to the business-owners, these thriving entities are the life-blood of local communities. Take them away and what’s left?

If you want to create opposition to a net zero transition, harming communities this way is exactly the way to go. From what I gather, the NIC dismiss the criticism of their report. It’s like hitting your head against a wall – a brick wall.