UK to offer 600 million in pollution-cutting support for steelmakers

Britain will offer grants to help its two largest steelmakers replace dirty blast furnaces with less carbon-intensive technology, media reported.

The BBC reported that grants worth 600 million ($744 million) will “likely” be unveiled this week for Chinese-owned British Steel and Indian-owned Tata Steel U.K.,to help slash damaging emissions, cut fuel bills and protect thousands of jobs.

The announcement will depend on when the firms accept the offers, The Guardian newspaper noted.

British Steel and Tata Steel operate Britain’s four remaining steel blast furnaces.

However, London reportedly wants the pair to switch to electric arc furnaces, which the BBC reports could recycle the scrap steel Britain produces and be powered by electricity from renewable sources.

A government spokesman declined to comment on the reports but stressed it was committed to helping the industry.

“The government recognizes the vital role that steel plays within the U.K. economy, supporting local jobs and economic growth,” said a spokesperson for the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy.

It remained “committed to securing a sustainable and competitive future for the U.K. steel sector.”

Business Secretary Grant Shapps “considers the success of the steel sector a priority and continues to work closely with industry to achieve this,” the spokesperson noted.

Sky News had reported on Jan. 20 that the government was mulling a 300-million rescue plan for British Steel.

The package would reportedly hinge on its Chinese owner, giant Jingye Group, investing at least 1 billion and vowing to protect jobs.

The broadcaster cited Treasury documents which warned that British Steel’s collapse could cost the taxpayer up to 1 billion.

Meanwhile, Tata Steel had threatened last July to shut its Port Talbot plant in Wales unless it receives British government aid to help decarbonize production.

Port Talbot, Britain’s largest steelmaking site, employs around half Tata’s U.K. workforce of 8,000.

British Steel meanwhile has about 4,000 staff.


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