Green belt gripe puts off Philips

Electronics firm Philips is looking at sites in Asia and eastern Europe for a £1billion semiconductor plant after facing opposition to plans to locate it in Britain. The Dutch firm postponed plans for a plant at Pedmore, on the outskirts of Birmingham, after residents, backed by Sutton Coldfield MP Sir Norman Fowler, won a public […]

Electronics firm Philips is looking at sites in Asia and eastern Europe for a £1billion semiconductor plant after facing opposition to plans to locate it in Britain.

The Dutch firm postponed plans for a plant at Pedmore, on the outskirts of Birmingham, after residents, backed by Sutton Coldfield MP Sir Norman Fowler, won a public inquiry into the development.

The plant would have been built on green belt land and opponents claim there are alternative industrial sites nearby.

Asia accounts for about 30% of Philips’s group turnover and in eastern Europe the group has a TV picture tube factory.

`Growing consumer demand would favour these locations,’ said Christer Lowgren, managing director of Philips Semiconductors. The UK on the other hand, he said, `offers flexibility in employment legislation, a skilled workforce and strong training infrastructure’.

Philips has just invested £45million in a new semiconductor plant at Stockport which will create 200 jobs over the next four years.

The public inquiry opened at the end of last year and has two weeks to run. Birmingham City Council and the West Midlands Development Agency, which support the development, are giving evidence. They claim the plant would broaden investment in a region heavily dominated by the car industry.