Chris Heaton-Harris affirms hydrogen support during Wrightbus visit

(l-r) Damian McGarry, Wrightbus Director of manufacturing; Jim Allister MLA; Chris Heaton-Harris MP, Secretary of State for Northern Ireland; Joerg Hofmann Wrightbus CEO; Ian Paisley MP; Ian Gillot, Wrightbus Managing Director (Parts and Services)

The Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, Chris Heaton-Harris MP, has visited Wrightbus at its Ballymena factory to pay tribute to the company’s zero-emission products and affirm government support for hydrogen.

Mr Heaton-Harris was seen with recently appointed Wrightbus CEO Joerg Hofmann and Development and Manufacturing Director (Parts and Service) Ian Gillott during the visit, where it is understood they discussed the company’s plans for the future.

The visit comes after recently announced deals to supply 193 buses to First Bus in what the manufacturer calls its largest ever electric vehicle order, and agreements overseas with Australian body builder Volgren and German operator Regionalverkehr Köln. The tour included the factory and Wrightbus’s hydrogen fuel cell-electric and battery-electric double-deck offerings.

“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,” comments Mr Hofmann. “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. 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.”

Adds Mr Heaton-Harris: “It’s been fantastic to visit Wrightbus’s 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 £1bn funding to support hydrogen production. This is on top of providing £8m 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.”