A REVOLUTIONARY project in St Helens aimed at eliminating CO2 from glass production is one of four Merseyside projects set to benefit from a new £900 million Government fund.

Glass Futures brings together some of the largest companies in the global glass industry, together with academia and Government.

The £54 million project is centred on the Glass Futures National Centre of Excellence, which will be the world’s first openly accessible, commercially available, multi-disciplinary glass melting facility with provision for research and development trials to decarbonise the UK glass industry.

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The 90,000 square foot facility is earmarked for land next to St Helens R.F.C.’s Totally Wicked Stadium, and is also in the vicinity of the existing Pilkington works.

Today, the Government announced the £900 million Getting Building Fund, which is being targeted in areas facing the biggest economic challenges as a result of the pandemic.

The Liverpool City Region will receive £26 million from the fund, with £9 million allocated to the Glass Futures project.

St Helens Star: A CGI of the view from St Helens LinkwayA CGI of the view from St Helens Linkway

St Helens Borough Council leader David Baines said Glass Futures will put St Helens on the “regional, national and international stage.”

Cllr Baines said: “Our glass heritage is second to none and Glass Futures is an opportunity to make sure St Helens is at the heart of the industry in the future as well.

“It’s a high-tech world first and it will put St Helens on the map in glass manufacturing once again.

“Our MPs Conor McGinn and Marie Rimmer have been strong and vital supporters of the plans, and the scheme is moving forward at pace thanks to them, our St Helens Borough Council officers, and cabinet member for economic regeneration Richard McCauley.

“Glass Futures is also an excellent example of the importance and benefits of our membership of the Liverpool City Region.

“The investment they’re providing – following on from such schemes as Newton-le-Willows train station, Windle Island improvements, and their ongoing commitment to Parkside – is a huge step in making Glass Futures happen and I’m grateful to Metro Mayor Steve Rotheram for his support.”

St Helens Star: Cllr David Baines, leader of St Helens Borough Council Cllr David Baines, leader of St Helens Borough Council (Image: St Helens Council)

Glass Futures was one of several projects in the Liverpool City Region’s £1.4 billion ‘Building Back Better’, post-Covid, economic recovery plan.

At its meeting on Friday, the combined authority approved £9 million for the development of trial space and headquarters in relation to Glass Futures, from its Strategic Investment Fund.

This money is part of the £26 million the combined authority has received from the Getting Building Fund, decentralised funding which is administered by the Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government.

It comes after the combined authority was asked by the Government to submit bids for funding for capital projects that could deliver outputs such as jobs and economic growth within 18 months.

As well as the 40 jobs created, provisional estimates suggest the Glass Futures project has a present value of benefits of £98.3 million.

The four projects that will receive Getting Building Funding are: Glass Futures (£9 million); Littlewoods Studios (£11m); Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine (LSTM), capacity Development (£2 million); and Halsnead Garden Village, employment development (£4 million).

Steve Rotheram, Metro Mayor of the Liverpool City Region, said: “This announcement is good news for our region.

“These four projects will create thousands of jobs and play a key role in the first stages of our economic recovery after coronavirus.

“While today’s funding is welcome, it is only the tip of the iceberg of the support we need from Government.

“A fortnight ago, I set out Building Back Better – our blueprint for that recovery.

“We are asking for £1.4 billion to unlock nearly £9 billion worth of projects, create over 120,000 jobs and help build thousands of homes for local people.

“Devolution – and combined authorities like ours – should be central to the Government’s plans for recovery.

“By taking powers and money from Westminster and giving them to local people, we are able to shape a recovery that works for us, as we are in seeing with projects like these.”

St Helens Star: Steve Rotheram, Metro Mayor of the Liverpool City RegionSteve Rotheram, Metro Mayor of the Liverpool City Region

The funding allocated by the combined authority on Friday is subject to rapid progression and must begin producing outputs by March 2022.

Should a project prove unable to meet the time constraint, the report said, funding will be reallocated towards one that can.

St Helens Borough Council has already agreed to provide up to £900,000 support to help to develop the idea from a concept to a reality.

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The council is also exploring other ways of supporting the development by taking a lease on the building.

The business case set out in the combined authority’s economic recovery plan says the council will sub-lease the building to Glass Futures, who will have responsibility for operation of the centre.

Work is currently underway on a detailed design. A detailed predevelopment and planning programme has also been prepared and indicates that planning approval for the development will be sought in February 2021.