Jaguar Land Rover's announcement of 1,700 new jobs for Solihull and a £1500 million investment in aluminium-based production for future cars highlights the importance of getting EU legislation right, says Lib Dem MEP Phil Bennion.
JLR's shift to a hi-tech all-aluminium vehicle architecture follows a long-running campaign by Lib Dem MEPs to amend the EU's Electro-Magnetic Fields Directive.
Welcoming today's announcement, Phil Bennion MEP, a member of the European Parliament's Employment and Transport committees, said: "This is great news for Solihull, the West Midlands and the UK. It shows the importance of groundbreaking new technology in helping our manufacturers expand and create new jobs here.
"It also highlights how we must ensure that legislation, such as the revised Electro-Magnetic Fields Directive adopted by the European Parliament earlier this year, takes account of stakeholders' concerns and is safe, proportional and practical."
Liberal Democrat MEPs, including Phil Bennion and his predecessor as West Midlands MEP Liz Lynne, mounted a long-running campaign to highlight concerns over earlier drafts of the Electro-Magnetic Fields Directive.
Working with experts from industry and healthcare, they worked hard to persuade Ministers and the European Commission to change health and safety procedures and derogations on exposure to electro-magnetic fields, which were so tightly drawn that hand-held electrically powered aluminium spot welding and even hospital MRI scanners would not have been practical.
Phil Bennion said: "I am pleased that our work is helping significant new investment by manufacturers in the UK, such as JLR, who need aluminum spot welding and other techniques that are essential in modern car assembly.
"JLR's exciting new ranges of aluminium-bodied cars will be world-beaters - strong but light and therefore very efficient. WIth the right protective equipment, the production process is perfectly safe and EU rules now reflect this."
The 1,700 new jobs brings the total number of UK manufacturing jobs announced by JLR since 2010 to almost 11,000. 6,000 are in the West Midlands region and the company estimates that a further 24,000 jobs have been created in the supply chain.
Phil added: "JLR is a fantastic advert for the British design and engineering and management. I was optimistic that this work would come to Solihull but it is a relief to hear it confirmed. This announcement is a real boost to the UK economy, let alone the West Midlands."
Photo: Phil Bennion MEP viewed aluminium spot-welding on a visit to the Jaguar production line at Castle Bromwich in December, where he discussed revisions to the EMF directive with senior JLR managers.
Note: The West Midlands region is at the heart of JLR's exciting plans, which include:
· 1,700 new jobs to be created at Solihull to support product range expansion.
· Jaguar to benefit from £1.5 billion product creation investment.
· JLR to extend leadership in aluminium and lightweight technologies with all-new aluminum monocoque architecture at Solihull.
· Jaguar mid-sized premium sports sedan to lead new ranges from 2015 featuring the first engine to be built produced at JLR's new £500m Engine Manufacturing Centre near Wolverhampton
· New technology showcased in C-X17 Jaguar sports crossover concept vehicle.
· Since 2011, JLR has added 6,000 manufacturing jobs in the West Midlands and an estimated additional 24,000 jobs in the supply chain.
· This brings to almost 11,000 the number of new jobs announced by JLR since 2011.
JLR full press release: http://newsroom.jaguarlandrover.com/en-in/jlr-corp/news/2013/09/jlr_commitment_uk_090913/
Phil Bennion Press Release from June 2013 on Electro-Magnetic Fields Directive: http://philbennion.org/news/128-revised-electro-magnetic-fields-directive-safe-but-practical-for-industry-and-hospitals