Desperate Welsh steelworkers can point to climate change ‘hysteria’ and EU ‘failures’ for their plight, according to Monmouth MP David Davies.
The Conservative said news Indian firm Tata Steel planned to sell the loss-making plants at Port Talbot and Llanwern came on a ‘black day’ for Wales, but avoidable if governments took action to slash crippling energy costs.
Mr Davies said that UK companies currently pay the ‘highest energy prices in the EU’, largely through carbon taxes meant to help tackle global warming. The Port Talbot plant is said to use as much energy as Cardiff per day.
“When the government realised the impact these were having, they brought in a compensation scheme but were forced to get permission from the EU which took several years. I suggested to the Business Minister that it would be far more sensible to scrap the taxes,” he said.
The current steel crisis has largely been blamed on Chinese producers selling steel at below production cost, known as ‘dumping’.
Mr Davies, chairman of the Welsh Affairs Committee, led a parliamentary inquiry in January when 750 jobs were set for the axe at Tata’s Port Talbot steelworks.
“There has been a worldwide fall in the price of steel as a result of the downturn in the world economy, which ultimately led to a glut of steel in the market,” said Mr Davies.
“Clearly, there is not much any single government could have done about that. However, there are things that could have been done to help companies like Tata.
“We heard evidence that the Chinese have been selling steel at prices below which it would be produced, yet it took the EU a year to do anything about it and even now the tariffs attached to steel are far too low.”
The Monmouth MP, a former British Steel employee, said he was ‘very saddened’ by Tata’s plans to sell-off the Port Talbot plant, which is losing £1m per day.
“Politicians of all parties need to think about the impact of carbon taxes on high energy producers in the UK, or we are going to lose yet more jobs.”