Sheffield Forgemasters and Government call truce over contracts

Ultra large casting at ForgemastersUltra large casting at Forgemasters
Ultra large casting at Forgemasters
Sheffield Forgemasters and the Government have called a truce in a war of words over contracts going to British companies.

The Brightside steelmaker and the department for Business, Innovation and Skills have issued a joint statement that agrees ‘Forgemasters cannot produce ‘ultra-large’ forgings.

But it can produce 80 per cent of forgings for projects like the planned nuclear power station Hinkley Point C.

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The unusual move comes after the firm said it had been ‘snubbed’ in favour of foreign firms for contracts at the site.

Chief executive Graham Honeyman had insisted the firm had the ‘capacity and capability’ to make 80 per cent of forgings and components for all parts of the European reactor design.

He hit out after industry minister Anna Soubry said British firms did not have the ‘capacity’ to create key parts for the Hinkley Point station in Somerset.

French and Japanese suppliers are being used instead by French energy giant EDF, which is behind the project.

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Sheffield Central MP Paul Blomfield called on Ms Soubry to justify her comments, - prompting a joint statement that appears to show both are in the right.

It states: ‘Sheffield Forgemasters agree that the Minister’s letter of 15 December to the BIS select committee is accurate.

‘It is right that Sheffield Forgemasters and others cannot produce what she described as ‘ultra-large’ forgings.

‘Sheffield Forgemasters, however, can produce 80 per cent of forgings for projects like Hinkley Point C, including large forgings for the steam generator, reactor and pressuriser assemblies.

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‘Sheffield Forgemasters is an outstanding UK company and Government will continue to work closely with them to ensure they are able to compete for opportunities in the nuclear supply chain’,

A government spokesman said: “Hinkley Point C is a private sector project and so not subject to government procurement rules.

“However EDF has said UK companies have secured substantial manufacturing contracts.”

“On government procurement projects, we have bought British. Crossrail, the biggest construction project in Europe, used almost exclusively British steel and 98 per cent of steel ordered by Network Rail is British.

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“And we have recently changed the procurement rules to make sure British steelmakers are well placed to take advantage of future government projects.”

Forgemasters is consulting on 75 redundancies at the 700-strong company which has been hit by a ‘storm’ in the sector including a collapse in steel prices, high energy bills, over capacity worldwide and a slowdown in the global economy.