Government urged to back decarbonising steel industry to breath new life into traditional steel making towns

The Government needs to act to decarbonise the UK steelmaking sector in order to make it a thriving and sustainable sector, one of the industry’s leaders has said.

Gareth Stace, UK Steel Director General, told The Yorkshire Post that the North of England was “ideally suited” to become a leading hub for producing green steel but that Government action was needed in order to make this happen.

Mr Stace said that investing in a low carbon steel industry would protect jobs in towns and areas which had relied upon the production of steel for generation and create a “strategically vital foundation sector” which would benefit the UK’s economy on a long term basis.

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He said: “Home to nearly 50 per cent of the UK’s steelmaking capacity, three out of four of the UK’s electric furnaces, and well situated to feed into the UK’s future carbon capture and storage network, the North is ideally suited to become a hub for low carbon steel production in the future.

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“However, to decarbonise the steelmaking sector requires action from Government to make the UK’s investment climate one which supports a thriving steel sector. That means ensuring we do not face consistently high electricity prices, creating a market for low-carbon steel products in the UK, and ensuring that our steel makers are on a fair playing field with their international competitors.

“The UK needs to reduce its emissions, including from steel production, but any agenda for decarbonisation – from investment in public transport, construction of renewable power sources and the roll-out of electric vehicles – would be a false economy if it was built with steel imported from abroad made using more carbon intensive methods. If the Government targets are to mean anything, we must drive down emissions not just in relation to what we produce here, but also what we consume. The best way of doing this is supporting low-carbon steel production here in the UK and driving down our imports of carbon-intensive goods from elsewhere through the right policies including carbon taxation and sensible public procurement targeted at promoting high paying, high skilled green jobs.”

A BEIS spokesperson said: “As an essential provider of over 30,000 well-paid jobs, the steel industry will play a critical role in providing the infrastructure necessary to drive a green economic recovery as we build back better.

“We are working closely with the steel sector to support its transition to a low carbon future. We have announced a £250 million Clean Steel Fund to support the industry to reduce carbon emissions, and our new Industrial Decarbonisation Strategy sets out how it can decarbonise in a way that supports competitiveness, jobs and clean growth.”