York MP calls for investment in BioYorkshire during House of Commons debate
A Yorkshire MP has called on the Government to back the BioYorkshire initiative - a 10-year plan to transform Yorkshire into the UK hub for green innovation and enterprise.
York Central MP, Rachael Maskell, said the Government needed to “realise the opportunity” in the wake of COP26 and provide further investment for the ambitious programme, which she said had the potential to place the region at the “heart of the global bioeconomy.”
BioYorkshire’s vision is to propel the region into growing a vibrant and dynamic bioeconomy - using renewable, biological resources to create greener products which minimise waste and reduce our reliance on fossil fuel.
The project harnesses the expertise of scientists and industry experts and is led by the University of York, Askham Bryan College and Fera Science Ltd.
BioYorkshire will help drive a new era of bio-manufacturing and farming, reduce carbon emissions and actively contribute to the UK’s Net Zero ambitions. It will reduce 2.8 million tonnes of CO2e annually, while reducing UK waste to landfill by 1.2 million tonnes per year.
It is estimated that innovation and skills developed through BioYorkshire will add around £1.4bn in GVA within the Yorkshire region, creating over 4,000 jobs across Yorkshire and the UK.
The project builds on a long-standing track record of strategic research with the University of York, judged first in the UK for Bioscience impact outside academia in the last Government assessment exercise.
Maskell said COP26 showed there was “no time for delay, no time to prevaricate or put off” and said BioYorkshire provided an opportunity for a “Green Industrial Revolution.”
Speaking at an adjournment debate on Monday evening, the MP said BioYorkshire was an opportunity to bring “skills, jobs and hope” to the region and “the start of high ethical regeneration in our generation.”
“When opportunity comes, to accelerate our path to net zero, to cut carbon, to protect our biodiversity, to end the plastic endemic, to enable a carbon negative future, to put investment in sustainability, it must be grasped,” she told MPs.
“I say to Government, if ever there was a project that could seed its ‘levelling up’ agenda in the region, then BioYorkshire will also deliver.”
The MP added: “BioYorkshire is Yorkshire’s Green New Deal. Developed over the past two years, seeded from years of research and applied application, and already demonstrating the power of its science. A Green Industrial Revolution waiting to scale up and level up.
“It will not only place York and Yorkshire at the heart of the UK biosciences economy, but the UK at the heart of the global bioeconomy. Its ambition is for domestic transition but its power is in global mitigation.
“It will use world class science and local expertise to turn lab technologies to fully scaled up applications to deliver profitable, bio-based production of chemicals, materials, and fuels, and enable productive, net-zero food, feed, farming and wider land use practices.
“BioYorkshire is the bridge between a Green New Deal and Levelling Up. It has the reach, the connection, physical and digital, local and global, and the ambition.
The MP said a Government commitment to funding was crucial.
“Partners are committed to multiplying its return. With COP26 done, the world is watching. Science, economy and ethics are yearning. We cannot delay, now is the time to act.”
The University of York’s Vice Chancellor, Professor Charlie Jeffery said: “The North of England already has the facilities, specialised research and innovation capability, and industrial capacity to deliver a world-leading bioeconomy based on crop science, agri-tech and industrial biotechnology.
“BioYorkshire’s unique partnership will coordinate and further develop these capabilities and resources to create a major economic opportunity for the region. We can deliver fundamental changes to the way we live, not only here in the north of England but globally.”
Professor Ian Graham, BioYorkshire’s Academic Director, said: “Our research programmes will offer truly cross disciplinary, innovative approaches to tackle industrial and societal challenges: we have an outstanding track record of research to benefit society.”
Steve Bagshaw, who chairs the BioYorkshire Industrial Advisory Group, added: “BioYorkshire is unique in that it specifically connects chemicals, biomanufacturing and agriculture - this is a powerful combination to support UK industry as we develop our bioeconomy to contribute to net zero.”