Jobs fear over carbon emissions tax

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Thousands of jobs could be at risk in South Yorkshire, MPs and steel workers’ union fear if the Government imposes a tax on carbon dioxide emissions which would hit industries including steel and glass manufacturing.

The trade unionists, plus Labour politician Angela Smith who represents Penistone and Stocksbridge, and Rotherham MP Denis MacShane, believe the plans could prompt some firms to move overseas where costs would be lower.

Mr MacShane and Ms Smith, plus representatives of steel workers’ union Community, met Environment Minister Greg Baker to lobby against the plans.

Ms Smith told Mr Baker 2,000 jobs in her constituency depend on steelworks, ceramic pipe manufacturer Hepworths and glass-makers.

She said the tax means electricity costs will increase dramatically, adding: “UK steel producers reckon the industry will have to pay an extra £16.2 million in 2013/2014 and a whopping extra £32.3 million in 2015/16.”

Mr MacShane, whose constituency includes the massive former Corus works at Parkgate, now owned by Indian conglomerate Tata, added: “We all support de-carbonising the economy but not de-industrialising the economy. The Government is proposing a killer tax which no other EU member state is bringing in. It will hit steel, glass and ceramic firms hard.

“The decisions on future investment of our three major steel employers, Tata, Celsa, in South Wales, and Outukumpu, in Sheffield, are taken in foreign countries.

“If the Government creates an anti-steel climate, certain consequences will be drawn.”

A Tata spokesman said: “While we agree with the comments about the heavy imposition that carbon regulations represent for the competitiveness of our business we would not try to suggest that Tata Steel is in any way thinking of transferring existing steelmaking capacity from the UK somewhere else.”