Textile makers decide whether to throw in towel

European textile manufacturers will decide this week whether to abandon their long-running legal battle against UK government aid for a controversial Taiwanese factory due to be built in Northern Ireland, following a recent defeat in the European Court.

Associations representing leading textile producers including Coats Viyella and Courtaulds Textiles are thought to have so far spent some pounds 60,000 fighting the pounds 157m project planned by the Taiwanese Hualon Corporation.

Their objections have been on the grounds that it will create huge unnecessary production capacity in an industry which has already been drastically slimmed down.

To the outrage of existing textile companies, the Government has agreed to provide pounds 61m in subsidies for the plant which will be built on a greenfield site in a deprived area north of Belfast and is planned to create 1,800 jobs.

Earlier this month the industry umbrella-group, the European Association for Apparel and Textiles, lost a European Court challenge against the decision by the European Commission to clear the aid package. Judges said no rules had been broken by the Commission when it approved the state aid.

Brussels-based lawyers acting for the European producers have been examining the judgment and are likely to ask the court for further clarification. John Wilson, director general of the British Apparel and Textiles Confederation, said he had been deeply disappointed by the judgment and was discussing the way forward with his counterparts on the Continent.

He explained: "The court seems to be suggesting that because Hualon say that is what they are going to do then we should not contest it. That seems crazy to me. We are looking at several aspects of the ruling though there don't seem to be any points of law we can contest."

If the producers decide against an appeal it would provide a boost for Northern Ireland's Industrial Development Board (IDB), the government agency for inward investment, and clear the way for the plant's construction three years after the original announcement.

However, there are signs that the IDB is reviewing the scale of the aid package, which depends on the full number of jobs being created. The IDB's chief executive visited Taiwan earlier this month and is believed to have discussed the subsidy with Hualon.

Mr Wilson insisted the campaign mounted by producers had not been a total failure. It had succeeded in delaying the project and highlighted the crisis affecting the industry.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

The Green Recruitment Company: Investment Associate – Energy Infrastructure

£50000 - £60000 Per Annum Discretionary Bonus: The Green Recruitment Company: ...

The Green Recruitment Company: Graduate Energy Analyst

£20000 Per Annum: The Green Recruitment Company: Summary: The Green Recruitm...

Ashdown Group: Finance Accountant - Financial Services - Central London

£30000 - £35000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: Finance Accountant - Fin...

Ashdown Group: Chief Technology Officer (CTO) - Glasgow

£90000 - £98000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: A truly exciting opportu...

Day In a Page

Solved after 200 years: the mysterious deaths of 3,000 soldiers from Napoleon's army

Solved after 200 years

The mysterious deaths of 3,000 soldiers from Napoleon's army
Every regional power has betrayed the Kurds so Turkish bombing is no surprise

Robert Fisk on the Turkey conflict

Every regional power has betrayed the Kurds so Turkish bombing is no surprise
Investigation into wreck of unidentified submarine found off the coast of Sweden

Sunken sub

Investigation underway into wreck of an unidentified submarine found off the coast of Sweden
Instagram and Facebook have 'totally changed' the way people buy clothes

Age of the selfie

Instagram and Facebook have 'totally changed' the way people buy clothes
Not so square: How BBC's Bloomsbury saga is sexing up the period drama

Not so square

How Virginia Woolf saga is sexing up the BBC period drama
Rio Olympics 2016: The seven teenagers still carrying a torch for our Games hopes

Still carrying the torch

The seven teenagers given our Olympic hopes
The West likes to think that 'civilisation' will defeat Isis, but history suggests otherwise

The West likes to think that 'civilisation' will defeat Isis...

...but history suggests otherwise
The bald truth: How one author's thinning hair made him a Wayne Rooney sympathiser

The bald truth

How thinning hair made me a Wayne Rooney sympathiser
Froome wins second Tour de France after triumphant ride into Paris with Team Sky

Tour de France 2015

Froome rides into Paris to win historic second Tour
Fifteen years ago, Concorde crashed, and a dream died. Today, the desire to travel faster than the speed of sound is growing once again

A new beginning for supersonic flight?

Concorde's successors are in the works 15 years on from the Paris crash
I would never quit Labour, says Liz Kendall

I would never quit party, says Liz Kendall

Latest on the Labour leadership contest
Froome seals second Tour de France victory

Never mind Pinot, it’s bubbly for Froome

Second Tour de France victory all but sealed
Oh really? How the 'lowest form of wit' makes people brighter and more creative

The uses of sarcasm

'Lowest form of wit' actually makes people brighter and more creative
A magazine editor with no vanity, and lots of flair

No vanity, but lots of flair

A tribute to the magazine editor Ingrid Sischy
Foraging: How the British rediscovered their taste for chasing after wild food

In praise of foraging

How the British rediscovered their taste for wild food