Four of the UK’s biggest trade unions have added their support to a campaign backed by 41 businesses calling on the government to lay the foundations for a hydrogen strategy to create and sustain thousands of jobs.

Unite, the GMB, Prospect and Unison, who collectively represent 200,000 workers in the energy sector, said in a joint letter to Chancellor Rishi Sunak that they believe hydrogen is the key to the UK becoming decarbonised.

They said a hydrogen strategy would significantly contribute to the UK achieving its net zero target by 2050, “whilst at the same time sustaining and creating high quality jobs and supporting economic growth in all parts of the country.”

The 41 companies which have added their name to the letter include Air Products, BOC, Bosch, Siemens and the SMMT.

Earlier this year, the Energy Networks Association told that hydrogen was the best alternative fuel option for HGV operators looking to cut carbon emissions, particularly for long distance transport.

Since then, Daimler Truck and Volvo Group announced a joint venture to develop, produce and commercialise hydrogen fuel cell systems for HGVs.

A hydrogen fuel trial is also underway in the Netherlands, with a 27-tonne rigid built by VDL being operated by zero-emission transport provider Breytner.

Baroness Brown, vice chair of the Committee on Climate Change, said that the UK “can’t afford to miss the boat on hydrogen”.

She said: “The UK missed the boat on wind technology and missed the boat on batteries.

“I strongly agree that the UK urgently needs a hydrogen strategy, as there are too many small, piecemeal funds and projects.

“We need some serious private and public funding, and a coordinated effort between government and industry, to kickstart and grow a green-job-creating hydrogen economy across the country.”