“Government must act to see that British steel is used on Teesside wind energy project”

Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland Labour MP, Tom Blenkinsop, today (6th October 2011) has called on Business Secretary, Vince Cable, to take urgent action to see that an offshore wind farm being built in Tees Bay will contain UK and Teesside steel.

Tom said “I have been told by senior managers at Tata Long Products – which covers the Lackenby Beam Mill – that they have been trying to be suppliers of up to 6,400 tonnes of steel plate for the new Teesside Offshore Wind Farm which will be built a mile off the coast of Redcar, and which is being built and run by French energy giant, EDF.”

“But up to date, they have been unable to break into this market, despite the wind farm being within sight of one of Tata’s main plants.”

“The farm will consist of 27 turbines to generate 62MW of electricity. EDF Energy is the site operator and responsible for general procurement decisions. I am told that EDF has placed the contract including the turbine foundation structures with Dutch company Van Oord. Van Oord, in turn, has been negotiating with three suppliers of foundation structures (monopiles) – EEW (Germany), SIF (Netherlands) and TAG Energy Solutions here on Teesside.”

“Each monopile contains approximately 400 tonnes of steel plate – which will provide work for Tata Mills at Scunthorpe, and could give opportunities to Lackenby and the special profiles plant at Skinningrove. The trouble is that SIF, as one of the main sub-contractors, has a long-standing relationship with the German steel producer Dillingen which has always supplied SIF with steel. There will be 15 Monopiles built by TAG but these will be under terms given to them by SIF. This will mean that this work in the UK will be done, but using German – not British – steel.”

 

“Tata have asked to be tenderers for this work, but so far this has been rejected. I feel this unfair and could well have a big knock-on impact for the future. The renewable energy supply chain is very complex and procurement decisions are starting to be made outside the UK which favours more established suppliers in mainland Europe, firms who show little or no interest in allowing a UK supply chain to emerge.”

“This means the UK steel industry and the UK economy does not gain much economic benefit from this infrastructure investment, even though we, as electricity users will pay for it through our electricity bills.”

“I have therefore set out these facts in a detailed letter to Vince Cable, asking him to look at this case as a matter of urgency, and saying that he should be now making a diary date with Tata Managers to see how this log-jam can be sorted out for the benefit of the local steel industry and for UK consumers.”

“The ball is now in Vince Cable’s court – and I, Tata and Tata’s workers and the members of the Community Trade Union who make up the majority of Tata’s employees, expect a positive response from him.”

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