WORKERS at the Runcorn chemical giant Ineos Chlor are celebrating the announcement that 2,100 jobs have been saved as part of a £390m Government investment.
The massive cash grant will secure the future of more than 3,500 jobs in the North West chemical industry - which includes the Runcorn plant - and another 1,400 jobs in associated businesses in the region.
The Government's Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) has offered chlorine manufacturer Ineos Chlor a £50m slice of the aid package deal, and a further investment of £60m and £45m have been made by company shareholders ICI and Ineos Chlor Capital.
The money will be spent on making Ineos Chlor more environmen-tally friendly, by virtually eliminating its gas emissions of sulphur dioxide and nitrogen dioxide.
In a statement from the DTI, Halton MP Derek Twigg has been praised for his efforts in campaigning for the £50m which has helped prevent the site from closure.
Ineos has been forced to axe about 400 jobs since acquiring the site from ICI two years ago and there had been fears that if the money was not forthcoming, it would lead to total meltdown and a greater decline in its competitive European market.
Said Mr Twigg: 'This money is a massive step forward for Halton, and the news that we've got the grant has come as a huge relief after all the hard work that has been put in to get it.
'When you think about the figure it's just phenomenal, and it's thought to be the second biggest cash investment that's ever been made to the UK chemical industry.'
He added: 'When ICI sold the premises there were real concerns about its investment, and our main worry was securing the future of the site.
'I've been involved in continued negotiations with Ineos Chlor and ICI, and we've had a lot of help from The North West Development Agency to safeguard the thousands of associated jobs reliant on Ineos Chlor.
Ineos Chlor chief executive Tom Cotty said: 'We worked very hard for quite a long time, over what was a very complicated deal.
'There's no doubt the package has secured thousands of jobs. We want to replace equipment and make it more energy efficient.'
Work is due to start next year with completion in 2007.
The £50m package will also secure 8,000 chemical jobs dependent on the Runcorn site's chlorine supply, and is subject to European Commission approval in six months time.