The Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, Chris Heaton-Harris MP, has visited groundbreaking zero-emissions bus company Wrightbus to hear about the company’s plans for the future.
Mr Heaton-Harris met with Wrightbus CEO Joerg Hofmann along with Development and Manufacturing Director Damian McGarry and Managing Director (Parts and Service) Ian Gillott.
As well as seeing the factory which produces Wrightbus’s groundbreaking technology, which includes the world’s first hydrogen double deck bus and the world’s most efficient battery electric double deck, Mr Heaton Harris spoke to the Wrightbus team about business opportunities in the UK and overseas, recruitment and the development of hydrogen as a clean energy source.
Mr Heaton-Harris said: ““It’s been fantastic to visit Wrightbus’ Ballymena headquarters. I’m proud that the UK government has supported this innovative technology through £11.2m funding to Wrightbus as part of its commitment to develop the green economy.
“Green energy is so important, and the UK government has committed £1billion funding to support hydrogen production. This is on top of providing £8million to Invest NI, through the New Deal for Northern Ireland, to help businesses like Wrightbus expand their overseas presence.
“Wrightbus’s success story is good news for the whole of the Northern Ireland economy, and is a great testimony to the hard work and vision of the team here.”
Mr Hofmann said: “We were delighted to be able to share with the Secretary of State our vision and plans for Wrightbus and what this means for Northern Ireland and the wider United Kingdom.
“The government has been clear that hydrogen plays a key role in the country’s net zero ambitions. Wrightbus has a clear plan in place to increase the ease and affordability of zero-emission buses. We believe hydrogen fuel cell buses can and should be used and powered across the UK and Ireland.
“Not only will it secure and grow jobs at Wrightbus’s factory in Ballymena, it will also support the many other innovative businesses working to grow a hydrogen sector that will enable us to become a world leader in this low-carbon technology.”
In recent weeks, Wrightbus has announced deals to build 193 buses for First Bus - the operator’s largest ever electric vehicle order - an initial 120 buses for the Republic of Ireland’s National Transport Authority (NTA) and significant agreements with Australia’s leading bus body manufacturer Volgren and German Bus operator Regionalverkehr Köln GmbH (RVK).
“This is clearly an exciting time for Wrightbus and, with the Government indicating its support for hydrogen initiatives, it has been fantastic for us to be able to speak to the Secretary of State about our visions for the future.”