Speaking in a Westminster Hall debate, called by Middlesbrough MP Tom Blenkinsop, on the future of the steel industry in the UK, Anna spoke about the opportunities for regenerating Teesside and rebuilding a global brand.
She urged the Government to give high priority to the bid for a Materials Catapult on Teesside at the Materials Processing Institute, citing recent interest in MPI by Sweden and German for support in future proofing their steel industries.
“I welcome the positive news about the number of potential buyers for Tata sites.
People of Teesside will be pleased to hear this positive news for steel communities around the UK.
It is testament to the fact that the argument is being won that steel is not a “sunset” industry and has a vital long term role for the future of British manufacturing.
Also a positive statement that Britain can be a global leader in steel, with the right support and a serious industrial strategy from government.
I am glad the government seem to have learnt their lesson, albeit at a terrible cost to us on Teesside.
I have spoken before about the anger that is still felt in Redcar that nothing was done to save our steel-making from closure.
We have never had answers to the questions I posed in the last debate, such as:
- Why European state aid rules were a barrier to co-investing with SSI but aren’t with the companies coming forward for the Tata sites?
- Why the private sector options that we put forward which would have kept the coke ovens going and mothballed the blast furnace rather than losing these national assets for good, were not taken up?
- Why the government said that it couldn’t put British tax-payers money into Thai Banks – why are they any different to the investors coming forward now?
There is a justified sense of anger on Teesside when they see the government pulling out all the stops now, but feel nothing was done for us.
But I don’t want to keep looking back. We have to rebuild. We have to get back on our feet.
And we are doing it.
I want to start by congratulating all at Middlesbrough Football Club, the chairman Steve Gibson, Manager Aitor Karanka and all the players, staff and of course the fans for a well-deserved promotion to the Premier League.
Back where we belong. A Premier League Club. A Premier League Town.
We now have to build on this opportunity as a global brand to show the world once again that Teesside is a great place to live, to work, to play, and to invest.
And I believe, just as steel was the driving force of our former industrial might, so, I believe it can still play a vital role in our future regeneration. I welcome the fact that the Shadow Board for the South Tees Development Corporation met for the first time yesterday. It has a strong board with a great deal of local experience and expertise and I look forward to working with them on the future of the SSI site.
I want to briefly set out two key areas where I think steel can play a key role in driving the regeneration of Teesside.
The first is in relation to steel and the circular economy. While we may never be able to forge steel again without our blast furnace, there is a great opportunity on Teesside to lead the way in metal remanufacturing, refurbishment and recycling.
The second area is in research and development.
I again urge the minister to give high priority to the benefit of the Materials Catapult on Teesside at the Materials Processing Institute.
The MPI pilot scale electric arc furnace in Redcar is the only example of its kind in the UK and offers innovation, process development and future opportunities in the adoption of electric arc furnace technology, as prioritised by potential investors in Wales and Teesside. No other such facility in Europe possesses equal capability as the MPI facility. Support for a Materials Catapult on Teesside will give British steel-making the cutting edge in research and development, encouraging greater investment and resilience for the industry. It is already attracting foreign and commercial interest. The MPI in my constituency report a direct approach from Sweden to support a 20 year programme to transform the Swedish steel industry from coal based, to hydrogen and renewable based production.
At the end of this month the Institute will be hosting a high level delegation from the German industry who have identified Teesside’s expertise and strategic understanding and want to take advantage of this to transform the German industry.
If foreign governments and commercial operators in the UK are engaging the partners to future proof their steel sectors, then can the minister explain why it is it such a struggle to convince officials in the British government and if they know something that industry and innovation experts do not?
So these two areas show the potential we have on Teesside for steel to play a key role in our economic regeneration.
It must not be forgotten that we also have a thriving chemicals industry. We have dynamic and growing port at Teesport. We have potential for more investment in energy from waste, carbon capture and storage, and indeed carbon dioxide conversion and we have potash mining is on its way. When oil and gas recovers that can also play an important role in our economy and I would like to thank the government for making Redcar College one of its oil and gas specialist centres. We also have great tourism and cultural opportunities.
In short Teesside has a great future and we have great opportunities ahead. Boro have done their bit to get us back in the Premier League. Now it’s time for all of us to step up.”