A NORTH-EAST MP has said he was “appalled that the country had to be taken to the brink” for the Government to act and rescue a Teesside energy firm.

Yesterday, the Government agreed to potentially pay tens of millions of pounds to subsidise a major US-owned fertiliser manufacturer, which has a site in Billingham, near Stockton, to ensure the supply of carbon dioxide for the food sector continues amid the energy crisis.

A deal brokered by Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng will see the Government provide “limited financial support” towards CF Fertilisers’ running costs to prevent a food supply shortage at Britain’s supermarkets.

The agreement will be in place for three weeks while the “carbon dioxide market adapts” to the surge in global gas prices.

Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Secretary George Eustice said the final details of the agreement were still being worked on but “it’s going to be into many millions, possibly the tens of millions”.

CF Fertilisers suspended production at plants in Teesside due to soaring energy costs as global gas prices spiked.

Stockton North MP Alex Cunningham said: “I was appalled that the country had to be taken to the brink with the threat of food shortages as well as threats to the vaccine programme for the Government to act but wholeheartedly welcome the short-term deal to get CF Fertilisers manufacturing fertiliser again; seeing CO2 supplies restored to those who need it and ensuring hundreds of jobs are protected.

“I’ve been warning Ministers over recent months, even years, of this perfect storm brewing but I think they didn’t really believe it would happen. The question now is what happens after the three weeks’ support ends. We are already seeing American industrialists demanding the US Government reduce gas exports to Europe and elsewhere to contain prices there.

“What energy intensive industries urgently need is better long term and robust action on energy prices, carbon costs and gas transportation fees.”

Tees Valley Mayor Ben Houchen said: “The news that CF Fertilisers is restarting production at their Billingham plant will be a huge relief for the hundreds of hard-working staff and their families who have faced uncertainty during this production pause.

“I am pleased that an agreement been reached quickly to protect jobs in the short-term, and I will continue to work with everyone involved to reach a satisfactory long-term resolution for our local workers.”