During a Written Parliamentary Question Time, Mark Durkan, MP for Foyle in Northern Ireland and uncle of Northern Ireland Environment Secretary Mark H. Durkan, raised the issue of the BBIA report with the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) and asked what the government is doing about it.
Below is the text of the question and answers.
On 15 December BBIA will be meeting with BIS to develop policies promoting the bio sector.
Mark Durkan: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills, what steps he is taking to promote the development of a bio-plastics industry within a UK circular economy; and what the implications for his policy are of the effect of the EU’s Europe 2020 programme in supporting that sector at a regional level.
Joseph Johnson (Minister for Universities and Science): The Government recognises the potential for the bio-plastics sector to contribute to a circular economy. The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) is engaged with a range of businesses in the bio plastic industry including via the Bio-based and Biodegradable Industries Association and is working to help promote the potential growth of that sector. The EU 2020 strategy and the funding programmes that support that initiative offer opportunities for the UK. BIS is actively promoting and facilitating engagement and participation in the Horizon 2020 Programme via the Knowledge Transfer Network (KTN).
Mark Durkan: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills, if he will make an assessment of the implications for his policies of the finding in the report, The future potential economic impacts of a bio-plastics industry in the UK, published by the Bio-based and Biodegradable Industries Association in October 2015, that, given the correct legislative environment, a UK bioplastics industry could support 35,000 jobs and contribute £1.9 billion to the economy.
Joseph Johnson (Minister for Universities and Science): I note the report by the Bio-based and Biodegradable Industries Association into the future potential impacts of a bio-plastics industry in the UK.
The Government delivers a range of policies across the business landscape – including research funding and innovation – that will be helpful in supporting the development of this sector. At the recent Autumn Statement, it was confirmed that science funding of £4.7 billion will be protected in real terms over the Parliament, and we will protect the Catapult network to support innovative firms and sectors.