Climate change minister Greg Barker visited Tata Steel’s Corby plant today (Monday, July 8) for a meeting organised by the town’s MP Andy Sawford.
They were joined by Community union general secretary Michael Leahy and its national officer for the steel sector, Roy Rickhuss, in discussions with senior managers and employees about the industry and government policy on energy and climate change.
The visitors also had a chance to tour Corby’s six-inch tube mill, which makes products for the construction industry, as well as the energy and power sectors.
Tim Morris, head of public affairs at Tata Steel in Europe, said: “The markets we serve, both at home and abroad, are intensely competitive. It is therefore vital that we have a competitive regulatory environment in which to operate. If legislation in areas that most affect us, such as energy, causes costs to rise significantly higher than those of our global peers, our ability to compete internationally will suffer.
“The UK’s energy costs are already much higher than those of our competitors elsewhere in Europe and further afield. We therefore welcome the initial steps the Government has announced, such as the Energy Intensive Industries package, to mitigate this major competitive disadvantage, but much more remains to be done.
“Steel is a foundation sector, supporting much of UK manufacturing and construction. We look forward to maintaining a dialogue with our partners in government to ensure the British steel industry’s contribution to UK competitiveness continues.”
The Corby works is fed with steel strip produced at other Tata Steel operations, such as those in Port Talbot and Llanwern in South Wales.
Last year the company completed a £240m programme to install a modern blast furnace at Port Talbot, as well as a new energy-efficient gas cooling system, which together have made Port Talbot one of Europe’s most sustainable integrated steelworks.
Mr Morris said: “Tata Steel has made a huge commitment to European steel-making, particularly in the UK, where we fully support successive governments’ determination to meet the challenges of climate change and the energy crisis.
“But power represents a very substantial cost to us, and it is self-defeating to fight the battle against climate change at the cost of the UK’s foundation sectors.”