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Jim Sillars: UK Energy Policy Is A Grave Handicap To Ailing Steel Industry

Jim Sillars, The National

I am not surprised that politicians want us to concentrate on China rather than their own role in the steel crisis.

CHINA’S steel production and pricing on the world market is not something the UK Government can tackle on its own, given that “dumping” has a technical definition in world trade terminology, and can only be dealt with at World Trade Organisation level. However, Chinese steel imports are only part of the reason for the threat to our steel industry.

Although I am not surprised that politicians want us to concentrate on China rather than their own role in this mess. Tata has given “cripplingly high” energy costs for its decision to shed jobs at Scunthorpe, and others in the industry who have made the same declaration are finding their views relegated to the business sections of the newspapers, and glided over by the superficial reporting that has become the norm in television. The UK, which is closing coal-fired power stations charges steel and other companies £49.90 per megawatt hour, whereas in Germany, which is building two new coal-fired stations, the charge is £21.45. In France, it’s £27.14. The reason for this glaring and crippling disparity is that green taxes on business in the UK are among the highest in the world. Something like one-third of industrial electricity cost is due to these taxes. China, India and many others have continued to pour out

CO2 over the years, rendering the claim of more CO2 equals higher global temperatures a nonsense, because there has been no increase in global temperatures for the past nineteen years. Yet, the politicians, captured by the green lobby and bogus science, have not let up on the energy costs they burden industry with. Perhaps, even at this late stage, our politicians at Holyrood and Westminster will reconsider their position by reading and learning from the recent resignation letter from the American Physics Society of Emeritus

Professor Hal Lewis of University of California at Santa Barbara, citing among his reasons: “It is, of course, the global warming scam, with the (literally) trillions of dollars driving it, that has corrupted so many scientists. It is the greatest pseudo-scientific fraud I have ever seen in my life.” It is not only steel production that is at stake, but also the many companies and jobs that are in its supply chain, and those that use it. Try maintaining or restoring manufacturing if its source of steel has to be imported. The factor of extreme energy costs can be tackled now by our political masters.

They only need to ditch the pseudo-science to see the way to act. Scotland is now in the competitive global economy where, particularly in Asia, political and social systems, poverty and the impact of these factors on production costs, will make it hard for our manufacturing industries to survive. To survive energy costs will be one of the decisive matters, and I hope there will be a reconsideration of our energy policy, which is a political delusion, but a grave handicap in the real economy; and that when fracking (a potential source of vast amounts of cheap energy) is considered, it will be the scientific facts and not the green vocabulary of scaremongering that will determine policy.

Jim Sillars
Former Deputy Leader of the SNP

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