Teeside’s “proud industrial heritage” faces further decline because of punishing ‘green’ taxes, the Government was warned yesterday (Thursday, September 11). A cross-party alliance of the region’s MPs used a Commons debate to urge ministers to ease the pain for energy intensive industries, including steel and chemicals.
The plea follows the introduction of a ‘carbon tax’ – a minimum price for the energy produced, to cover the cost of pollution and to stimulate new, renewable forms of energy.
Earlier this year, the Chancellor capped that price floor at £18 per tonne of CO2 from 2016, instead of allowing a rise to £30 by 2020 – saving industries around £4bn over three years.
But Alex Cunningham (Lab; Stockton North) argued the move did not go far enough, saying: “The Tees Valley has long been synonymous with heavy industry and the thirst for energy that it necessarily entails.
“The cooling towers and chimney stacks that still adorn, if not dominate, parts of the region’s skyline are testimony to Teesside’s proud industrial heritage.
“But the decline of those industries will be hastened if actions are not taken to lessen the burdens imposed by carbon taxes and levies.”
The Labour MP raised the “struggles” of GrowHow, a fertiliser company in his constituency, which had to pay three times as much for gas as its Russian competitors.
And he added: “Similarly, German electricity prices on a delivered basis for very large users in 2013 equated to €38 per MW, against £70 per MW in the UK.
“The situation is set to get much worse over the next decade. UK energy and climate change policies will add around £30 to every megawatt of electricity by 2020, substantially more than for any other country.”
The plea was echoed by Ian Swales (Lib Dem; Redcar), who pointed out how the Tata beam mill in his constituency made beams for the new World Trade Centre.
He said: “Their beams are in nine of the ten tallest buildings in the world. Steel beams cannot be made without using a great deal of energy – there are physical and chemical limits.
“When I see the UK’s attitude to these sorts of policies, I often feel like we are playing cricket, while other countries are playing rugby, boules or other sports that we do not recognise.”