The UK Government has been urged to support a “re-industrialisation” agenda at a meeting with representatives of the aluminium industry.
At a meeting between the Aluminium Federation (ALFED) and the Business and Energy Minister Michael Fallon, the organisation said that environmental energy taxes had put the aluminium industry in Britain at a cost disadvantage against countries such as China, India and other European nations.
ALFED was joined at the meeting by representatives of the European Aluminium Association, who highlighted the results of a European Commission-funded report on the effects of EU policy and legislation on the sector.
The study shows that EU legislation has created a cost increase of €228 (£190) per tone of final product, which is equivalent to 11 per cent of the total production cost including raw materials.
ALFED president and Bridgnorth Aluminium managing director Simon MacVicker said: “The imposition of one environmental tax after another has created a situation in which the UK aluminium industry is struggling to compete internationally, and as a result of this, thousands of jobs have gone abroad as investment and buyers have been attracted to these cheaper markets.
“What we need is the British Government to do is cut the domestic energy taxation that puts us at a disadvantage to our European partners and bang the drum in Europe for the re-industrialisation agenda, so that we once again become globally competitive.
“Energy taxation is the one thing that’s really set us back as an industry. It hasn’t achieved anything for the environment, because it has merely shifted production to another part of the planet, where often the energy efficiency and greenhouse gases from electricity generation are far worse than Europe.”
European Aluminium Association director general Gerd Goetz said: “We need concrete proposals to reverse current negative trends and stop deindustrialisation. We are calling upon decision-makers in all European countries to align EU industrial, energy and climate policies. Reaching climate and environmental goals will be pointless if the result is to sacrifice an industry that, in addition to generating wealth and jobs, is crucial to achieve the transition to a low-carbon and resource efficient society.
“Demand for aluminium, and the innovative and resource efficient solutions the metal provides, is growing Europe and worldwide. It is a political choice to maintain or not such a forward-looking industry in Europe or not.”