Tata Chemicals Europe

A Message from Lord Pickles and Lord Blunkett, followed by Tata Chemicals Europe's best practice article

The ability to listen and learn from one another has always been vital in parliament, in business and in most aspects of daily life. But at this particular moment in time, as national and global events continue to reiterate, it is uncommonly crucial that we forge new channels of communication and reinforce existing ones. The following article from Tata Chemicals Europe is an attempt to do just that. We would welcome your thoughts on this or any other Parliamentary Review article.

Blunkett signature Rt Hon The Lord David Blunkett
Pickles signature Rt Hon The Lord Eric Pickles


Managing Director
Dr Martin Ashcroft
Tata Chemicals Europe’s
sodium bicarbonate plant at
Winnington, Northwich
Tata Chemicals Europe are part of the global Tata Group
and produce soda ash, sodium bicarbonate, pure vacuum-
dried salt, and energy in the form of steam and electricity.
They have set an ambitious target to reduce carbon emissions
by 20 per cent by 2030 and and are to build a plant that
will capture carbon dioxide from flue gases that will be used
as a raw material in the production of high grade sodium
bicarbonate. Managing Director Dr Martin Ashcroft explains
the development of the company over the last five years and
discusses the need to reform Ofgem’s regulatory framework.
Looking forward and creating a bold, bright future for customers, employees and
shareholders has long been our mantra. With an endurance that spans pioneering
the production of soda ash 145 years ago, we were a founding member of ICI in
the early 20th century and are now a part of the global Tata Group.
Built on four pillars, we produce soda ash, sodium bicarbonate, pure vacuum-
dried salt, and energy in the form of steam and electricity. As with many major
manufacturers, ours is a “foundation” industry that supports industrial clusters and
supplies many of the UK’s industrial sectors, such as glass making, chemicals, food
production, pharmaceuticals and agriculture.
Over the past five years, we have been transformed by the implementation
of a bold new strategy that has changed the fortunes of our business. This
transformation included the acquisition of British Salt to reduce exposure to cyclical
economic risks in the soda ash market and the Winnington combined heat and
»Managing Director:
Dr Martin Ashcroft
»Founded in 1874
»Based in Northwich and
Middlewich, Cheshire
»Services: Production of energy
(steam and electricity), soda
ash, sodium bicarbonate and
pure vacuum-dried salt
»No. of employees: 400
»400,000 tonnes annual soda
ash production capacity – sole
UK manufacturer
»135,000 tonnes sodium
bicarbonate production
»400,000 tonnes annual pure
salt production
»415GWhs annual electricity
»1.2 million tonnes high-pressure
steam generation annually
Tata Chemicals
Highlighting best practice
power plant to take control of our
energy costs. The transformation also
resulted in the closure of one soda ash
production plant and the creation of
the world’s first standalone sodium
bicarbonate plant where demand now
Preparing for the future
Our future is a compelling vision of
groundbreaking innovation built on
the four pillars of our business: to
sustain soda ash production in the
UK, maintain the low-carbon energy
generation activity and target global
growth for both high-grade sodium
bicarbonate and high-purity salt.
With a rich recent history of successful
innovation, we now stand on the cusp
of another major transformation. As an
energy-intensive industry, controlling
energy inputs and emissions from
production is a critical activity. Since
2008, we have significantly reduced
our carbon emissions in absolute terms
– simply put, our plant is now setting
the EU ETS benchmark for Europe’s
soda ash industry.
We have set an ambitious target to
decarbonise production by a further
20 per cent by 2030, in line with
the UK government’s aspiration for
industry. Central to this target, we
have created a unique opportunity
to capture carbon emissions from
production and, rather than storing
underground at huge cost, use this
carbon as a raw material to make
products such as sodium bicarbonate
for export into growing international
markets. With government strategy
firmly focused on increasing exports
while decarbonising industry, our
vision for our future provides an
exciting blueprint for industrial
development across the UK,
supporting jobs and prosperity in the
manufacturing heartlands.
Regulatory, political and
economic challenges
Our vision creates a huge opportunity
to be at the forefront of industrial
innovation, meeting government
targets for decarbonisation and
increasing exports. The opportunity
is built upon all of our four pillars,
but the energy business has a crucial
role in a challenging regulatory and
economic environment.
Our energy business is one of the UK’s
most efficient industrial CHP plants.
Employees at the
Lostock sodium
carbonate plant
Our future is a
vision of
innovation built
on the four
pillars of our
It is over 80 per cent efficient and
indirectly helps to reduce wholesale
energy prices for domestic customers.
Supporting the regional electricity
grid and other local industries via a
private high-voltage network already,
the plant also offers opportunities
to enhance the UK’s security of
electricity supply at a time when
ageing generation infrastructure is
In the UK, there are over 380 industrial
CHP sites, which generate a combined
5260MWe. Many of the businesses
with industrial CHP plants support
clusters of other manufacturing
businesses that work as an ecosystem,
supporting local economies, tens of
thousands of jobs and millions of
pounds of exports. Often ignored by
Ofgem is the role of energy intensive
industries, or EIIs, in the wider
economy; EIIs are located close to
raw materials or transport hubs that
have grown around them, helping to
balance the UK economy away from
the SouthEast.
Today, the opportunity to innovate and
develop industry in the UK is under
siege due to Ofgem’s relentless drive
for regulatory change, which takes
little account of industry or the impact
of EIIs on UK businesses that rely upon
the raw materials produced.
With the recent Targeted Charging
Review by Ofgem, serious challenges
to the viability of these crucial
industrial clusters are being created
that risk current businesses and the
future opportunities we have created.
Specifically, as a result of changes
over the past five years, we have lost
£7 million per annum due to Ofgem
reforms, with a potential further
£1million per annum loss as a result of
the recent TCR review. This lost revenue
is deeply damaging to those who
operate industrial CHP plants where
the cost of operation and maintenance
is significant. By eroding the electricity
revenue of these plants, we erode
the foundation of the manufacturing
industries and the clusters and jobs they
support. Ofgem could create a perfect
electricity system but could destroy our
vital manufacturing industries in the
process. Manufacturing businesses are
centred where there are skills and raw
materials – not to take advantage of
the electricity system.
To deliver the UK’s exciting vision
of industrial development and
decarbonisation, the aim of increasing
manufacturing output and exports
will need to succeed, but this can only
happen if regulation and policy work in
tandem, helping to ensure that efficient
industries can remainsustainable.
Our vision
creates a huge
opportunity to
be at the
forefront of
Left: New £600,000
pack line at British Salt,
opened by His Royal
Highness The Duke of
Right: Control room
at British Salt plant,


This article was sponsored by Tata Chemicals Europe. The Parliamentary Review is wholly funded by the representatives who write for it. The publication in which this article originally appeared contained the following foreword from Rt Hon Michael Gove.

Rt Hon Michael Gove's Foreword For The Parliamentary Review

By Rt Hon Michael Gove

This year's Parliamentary Review comes at a momentous time for parliament, as we collectively determine the destiny of the United Kingdom. 

On October 31, the UK will leave the European Union. The successful implementation of this process is this government's number-one priority.

Three years after a historic referendum vote, we will deliver on the decisive mandate from the British people. Trust in our democracy depends on it. Until that final hour, we will work determinedly and diligently to negotiate a deal, one that abolishes the backstop and upholds the warm and close relationship we share with our friends, allies and neighbours in the EU. But in the event that the EU refuses to meet us at the table, we must be prepared to leave without a deal.

As the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, it is my job to lead on this government's approach, should that scenario happen. Preparing for Brexit is my department's driving mission. But while I am leading this turbocharged effort, the whole of government is committed to this endeavour.

Ministers across Whitehall are working together to ensure that every possibility is considered, every plan is scrutinised and every provision is made. A daily drumbeat of meetings means that we are holding departments accountable, so that preparations are completed on time.

The chancellor has confirmed that all necessary funding will be made available. And we have mobilised thecivil service, assigning 15,000 of our most talented civil servants to manage our exit from the EU.

We will make sure that on November 1, there is as little disruption to national life as possible. Our trade relationships will continue to thrive, thanks to agreements with countries around the world worth £70 billion. Our country will remain secure, thanks to nearly 1,000 new officers posted at our borders. And the 3.2 million EU nationals now living and working among us can remain confident, with absolute certainty, of their right to remain in the UK.

Above all, our goal is to be transparent. Soon, we will launch a public information campaign so that citizens, communities and businesses are ready and reassured about what will happen in the event of “no deal”.

In my first few weeks in this role, I have travelled to ports and tarmacs, borders and bridges, all across the UK –from the seaside of Dover to the rolling green hills of County Armagh. I have heard from business owners and border officials, farmers and hauliers. They are ready to put an end to uncertainty. And they are ready to embrace the opportunities ahead.

Our departure from the EU will be a once in a lifetime chance to chart a new course for the United Kingdom. Preparing for that new course will be a herculean effort. But this country has made astounding efforts before. We can do it again.
Rt Hon Michael Gove
Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster