THE Government is to honour a £360million loan by the previous Labour administration to allow Ford Dunton workers to develop the green cars of the future.

New business minister Mark Prisk visited the factory yesterday to see the production of the eco-friendly vehicles, partly funded by the Government’s loan guarantee scheme.

Ford will invest £1.5billion over the next five years in low-carbon technologies at its four main UK factories, including Dunton’s research and development centre.

The investment has been made possible because the previous Government promised to underwrite £360million of a £450million loan being paid to Ford by the European Investment Bank.

Mr Prisk was joined by Simon Brooks, vice-president of the bank, and Joe Greenwell, chairman of Ford of Britain, to officially sign the paperwork.

The loan guarantee secures the jobs of 2,800 workers at Dunton, located off the A127, where workers will be developing the company’s battery-powered vehicles.

It is also good news for the nearby Dagenham factory, which will manufacture battery-powered and hybrid engines for Ford’s cars and commercial vehicles.

Mr Prisk said: “Ford’s investment is a great opportunity to take the lead in developing low-carbon manufacturing.

“This backing from the Government will help to ensure the long-term success of manufacturing in the UK and make sure we are at the forefront of new technologies.”

Mr Greenwell said: “This is a testament to the skills and capabilities of our UK workforce and demonstrates the scale of our commitment to Britain.

“Our customers will benefit from this extensive investment, as will the 100,000 people in the UK whose jobs are directly or indirectly dependent on Ford.”

Mr Brooks said: “The European Investment Bank is pleased to support Ford’s cutting-edge engine research and development.

“A new generation of low-emission engines and more fuel-efficient vehicles will develop new skills and innovation across the UK.

“These new vehicles will make a significant contribution to combating climate change.”

The £20billion loans guarantee scheme was set up in January to help businesses ride the recession.