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Supporting Welsh industry with long-term plan for future

"Radical measures to reduce energy costs underlines the government’s commitment to supporting Welsh industry" Stephen Crabb MP 

Wales Office Minister Stephen Crabb yesterday visited steel manufacturer Celsa UK as well as host the second Energy Intensive Industries roundtable in Cardiff. Measures announced in the Budget 2014 to tackle energy costs for sectors including steelmaking and chemical industries are up for discussion.

Minister Crabb also visited Cardiff Airport to discuss a UK-wide £20 million ‘Regional Connectivity Fund’ announced in the Budget to encourage airlines to start flying new routes from regional airports. Mr Crabb will meet Chief Executive Jon Horne and Chair Lord Rowe Beddoe to discuss whether the airport could benefit from the funding stream.

Speaking ahead of the Energy Intensive Industries roundtable Minister Crabb said:

“We are determined that this should be a sustained and balanced economic recovery. Lowering energy costs is an important step in helping our manufacturers to compete in global markets.

“The £7 billion Business Energy Package announced in the Budget has accelerated efforts to make energy prices more affordable, and to help manufacturers keep pace with competitors. But we need to keep listening to the issues Energy Intensive Industries face. The Welsh economy has a greater share of these companies than any other part of the UK.”

It is the second roundtable hosted by Minister Crabb in Cardiff. The first was held in May 2013 with the Minister for Energy and Industry Michael Fallon MP. That meeting sought the views of Wales’ most energy intensive sectors on how the Government could assist with energy costs in the lead-up to the 2014 Budget.

Speaking ahead of the visit to Celsa Steel UK Minister Crabb said:

“I am very much looking forward to my second visit to Celsa Steel UK’s site to hear about the benefits that the new package of support announced in the Budget can bring to its steel manufacturing business and the wider Welsh economy.

“I am pleased progress is being made and I remain passionate about supporting Welsh manufacturers keep pace with their competitors around the world. But I am keen to hear what more can be done with the challenges that Energy Intensive Industries face.”

Mr Crabb, who last visited the company in July 2013, will meet with General Manager Luis Sanz and James Ellis Head of Human Resources and undertake a tour of the Melt Shop.

Commenting on the visit Celsa UK General Manager Luis Sanz said:

“We are pleased to welcome the Minister to our Cardiff site. We have enjoyed a good working relationship with him in understanding the impact that rising energy costs are having on Energy Intensive Industries in the UK.

“The announcement of £7 billion worth of relief measures introduced by the Chancellor has been welcomed by Celsa. It recognises the impact that energy taxation is having on Energy Intensive Industries. We welcome steps taken to mitigate these, particularly the Renewables Obligation and will continue to work for their quick implementation.

“Disparity does remain between UK and European markets’ energy prices. We look forward to continuing to work with Minister Crabb to discuss potential impacts of the Business Energy Package in creating a level playing field in energy pricing for the UK manufacturing sector,” said Mr Sanz.

The measures included in the Budget’s Business Energy Package are expected to save Welsh businesses up to £240 million between 2016-17 and 2018-19.

Speaking ahead of the visit to Cardiff Airport Minister Crabb said:

“Regional airports have a strong role to play in meeting UK demand for air travel. Cardiff Airport has seen passenger numbers rising and I am keen to discuss its potential to apply for the UK-wide Regional Air Connectivity Fund to secure further growth. New routes are key to the success of Cardiff Airport.”

Further information

Budget 2014 announcements

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