UK steel industry ‘at risk without investment in green manufacturing’

The warning came from the Commons Environmental Audit Committee, which has been conducting a series of hearings on how to make the sector greener

The fortunes of the city are inextricably linked to the steel works
UK steelmaking is blamed for 14% of UK industrial emissions

Britain’s steel industry is “at risk” unless the government helps the sector go green, MPs warn today.

The UK could be left behind in the race to green manufacturing as competing nations take the lead, according to the Commons Environmental Audit Committee.

It sounded the alarm after research into how steel companies, blamed for 14% of Britain’s industrial emissions and 2.7% of all Britain’s greenhouse gases, can reduce pollution.

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It states: “British domestic steel production will be at risk unless the government develops its strategy to encourage more research and development in emerging decarbonised technologies.”







The production consumes enormous amounts of energy
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Committee Chair Philip Dunne said: “Our committee has heard that the steel sector has an opportunity to move away from being a strong emitter and embrace clean technologies as it adjusts to eventually becoming a low-carbon industry .

“This is precisely the transition we need to focus on as the 2050 net-zero deadline approaches.

“To make this a reality, the government needs to provide clear demand signals and invest adequately in research and development so that the industry can use alternative methods of producing steel that are not as carbon-intensive.”







Conservative Philip Dunne chairs the committee
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The £2.1 billion industry employs 33,700 workers directly, with a further 42,000 in supply chains.

Bosses are under intense pressure to switch to less polluting production, but want government help to overhaul processes.

Alasdair McDiarmid, operations manager of the Community Steel Works Union, said: “The government needs to decide if they want a steel industry in this country and stop bringing the can to its knees.







Operations Manager of Community Union Alasdair McDiarmid
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community association)

“The situation is urgent as our EU competitors are years ahead of us because their governments have recognized the strategic importance of steel and are supporting them in decarbonisation.

“It can’t happen overnight, but with government support, there can be a just transition that protects jobs and the future of all our steel companies.”

Labor MP Stephen Kinnock, who chairs the all-party parliamentary group on steel and whose Aberavon constituency includes Britain’s largest steelworks, Port Talbot, said: “So far we have yet to see any long-term green steel investment plan from the government that would give the industry the long-term security it needs.







Labor MP Stephen Kinnock, leader of the all-party parliamentary group on steel
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“The investment required to decarbonize is a fraction of the cost of doing nothing.

“Government – not least the Treasury Department – urgently needs to provide answers to the questions this report raises and then make rapid progress in supporting these good, meaningful and safe steel jobs that contribute so much to our country’s economic resilience.”

UK Steel Director General Gareth Stace said the “decarbonisation of the steel sector represents a major opportunity for industry and government”.






The Mirror has been running a Save Our Steel campaign since 2015

Meanwhile, British Steel announced it has secured government funding for a “feasibility study on switching from natural gas to green hydrogen as a fuel source for reheat furnaces”.

The company’s Environment and Sustainability Director, Lee Adcock, said: “As an energy-intensive industry with difficult-to-reduce emissions, the steel industry offers the potential for large carbon emissions savings by switching from natural gas to hydrogen.







British Steel operations at Scunthorpe, Teesside
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“This study is therefore an important and extremely exciting step in our journey to develop the technology needed to transform the way we and other steelmakers work.”

A spokesman for the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy said: “We recognize the crucial role that the steel industry plays in all aspects of the UK economy and are working closely with the industry on its transition to a low-carbon future in a way promotes competitiveness, jobs and clean growth.

“Our ongoing support for the low-carbon transition of the sector includes the £315m Industrial Energy Transformation Fund, £1bn to support the deployment of carbon capture and £240m to boost UK hydrogen production.”

The Mirror has been running a Save Our Steel campaign since 2015.

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