Plaid Cymru welcomes talks to secure future of Port Talbot steelworks
Plaid Cymru leader Rhun ap Iorwerth has welcomed news that the UK government is in advanced talks with Tata Steel to secure funding which would safeguard the future of its Port Talbot plant.
The government is reportedly close to agreeing a £500 million funding package aimed at protecting the long-term future of a key part of the UK’s steel industry.
In July, the chairman of Tata Steel had indicated the company was preparing to take a decision on the future of its UK business in the next year, with the blast furnace in Port Talbot approaching the end of its working life.
Tata Steel also warned it may stop one of the two blast furnaces at the plant if the UK government failed to announce support for the decarbonization of the steel industry by July.
The current proposals would secure £1 billion for the steelworks but could lead to as many as 3,000 job losses across the UK, according to Sky News.
Under draft plans, the Government would commit approximately £500 million of public funding, while Tata Steel’s Indian parent company would agree £700 million of capital expenditure over a multi-year period, the report said.
The company would commit to building electric arc furnaces, which offer greener, less labour-intensive ways of producing steel than traditional blast furnaces.
Port Talbot is the UK’s largest steelworks employing around 4,000 workers.
“As I said when visiting TATA steel last month with Plaid Cymru’s Economy Spokesperson Luke Fletcher, we have to make sure that steel production stays here in Wales,” Mr ap Iorwerth said.
“That means becoming greener, it means getting investment from government, and protecting all the jobs that are dependent on it.
“Tata has a huge role to play in decarbonising our national economy and has the potential to set Wales on the right path to a green jobs revolution.
“That potential must be maximised. Both UK and Welsh governments must work with the company and the Unions to protect jobs and the industry’s future.
“With the Senedd reconvening in a week’s time, the First Minister should be prepared to bring an update on this critical matter to give the industry and all its workers as much assurance as possible.”
A Tata Steel spokesman said in a statement issued to Sky News: “Tata Steel is continuing to discuss with the UK Government a framework for continuity and decarbonisation of steelmaking in the UK amidst very challenging underlying business conditions, given that several of its heavy-end assets are approaching the end of life.
“Given the financially constrained position of our UK business, such significant change is only possible with Government investment and support, as also seen in other steelmaking countries in Europe where governments are actively supporting companies in decarbonisation initiatives.”
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