The visit, which took place at the company’s manufacturing facility in St.Helens, Merseyside, was arranged in conjunction with Glass for Europe – the trade association for Europe’s manufacturers of flat glass. The body has been advocating for a supportive legislative framework for the sector, including an ambitious revision of the EU Energy Performance of Buildings Directive (EPBD).
According to Glass for Europe, the construction sector is able to deliver more energy savings than it has done in recent years. However, in order to do so the EU must aim to triple the current renovation rate starting from improving the performance of the buildings’ envelope – a commitment that would boost the glass and glazing industry through increased demand for energy-efficient glazing.
The visit saw Theresa Griffin MEP and Conor McGinn MP tour Pilkington’s UK5 float glass manufacturing line at Greengate, and meet with Matt Buckley, MD of Pilkington United Kingdom Limited, to hear more about its state-of-the-art offline coater at Cowley Hill.
Phil Brown, European Regulatory Marketing Manager at Pilkington, said: “This is a really important issue for the glass and glazing sector, and it is great to have Theresa and Conor visit our site here in St. Helens so they can see first-hand the difference such reforms could make. Not only on the industry as a whole, but also the local economy.
“We’ve made a significant investment in both R&D and our manufacturing facilities over the past few years, to enable us to continue to produce high-performing energy-efficient products for the commercial and domestic markets. A firm commitment to a legally binding energy efficiency target and increased building renovation rates would not only present a significant growth opportunity for the glass and glazing sector, it would provide much needed stability for our industry and its supply chain.”
Theresa Griffin MEP, Labour’s European Spokesperson for Industry and Energy, added: “It’s incredibly important that I meet with industry and trade unions that are affected by the legislation that the European Parliament is working on to make it the best and most appropriate that it can be.
“Pilkington is doing some good work on energy-efficient products that will work towards tackling energy poverty in the UK and across Europe, and we need to support our manufacturing and research bases in the North West. We need legally binding energy efficiency targets across Europe to help our most vulnerable people suffering energy poverty.”
Conor McGinn MP said: “I joined Theresa Griffin MEP to visit the site because, while the UK's steel industry is understandably and rightfully receiving a lot of public attention, the glass industry cannot be overlooked and needs support as an energy intensive industry. Not least because of the importance locally in terms of jobs and Pilkington's historical links to St. Helens.
“These are challenging times for the industry, as a company it is at the forefront of glass technology and is a world leader in creativity and innovation but the government must still play its part in supporting the sector.”