Call for action to safeguard UK cement industry
Featured in19 July 2012 - 17:00
MPA says government’s own evidence shows energy costs are hurting energy-intensive industries
COMMENTING on a report published by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills on Friday 13 July, which shows that the UK cement industry is significantly disadvantaged by the cost of energy and climate change policies compared with its main European and global competitors, the Mineral Products Association (MPA) said the new data confirmed what it had been telling government for the past year.
‘While accepting that there is a need to manage our response to climate change, our members have been telling us for some time that they have been struggling with the cumulative burden of rising electricity costs and ‘green taxes’ designed to accomplish this,’ said MPA chief executive Nigel Jackson. ‘In turn, we have conveyed these messages to government in the strongest possible terms. Now its own commissioned work backs this up.’
Mr Jackson said the UK cement industry had reduced its CO2 emissions by 57% since 1990, so its commitment to tackling climate change was not in question. But he warned that, as an internationally traded commodity, if it cost more to make cement here than to import it, a strategic indigenous manufacturing industry would be threatened for no environmental gain.
‘If we don’t have a healthy domestic industry to supply UK demand, it will have a material cost impact on the £120 billion construction industry and we will create an unnecessary risk to our security of supply,’ he said.
Adding that it was in the Government’s gift to do something about it, he acknowledged their first step in doing this by announcing, in the 2011 Autumn Statement, £250 million to compensate some energy-intensive industries against unfair electricity costs.
However, Mr Jackson pointed out that the cement industry will not qualify for a share of the first £110 million of this because the EU has ruled against such support for the sector, in relation to indirect costs associated with the EU Emissions Trading Scheme.
‘The Government is currently collecting data to help shape their proposals for the remaining support, and the newly published report clearly shows that the UK cement industry must receive some help if it is to survive to supply the UK’s low-carbon economy,’ said Mr Jackson.
‘The Government now has the evidence to corroborate the industry evidence. It is time for them to respond and take the action we have been urging them to take for so long and to come forward with their long-awaited Energy-Intensive Industries Strategy.’