Ken Skates, Cabinet Secretary for Economy and Infrastructure
We remain committed to doing everything we can to secure the future of the Tata plants in Wales working closely with the Trades Unions and Tata Steel. Whilst a very difficult economic trading position remains and actions need to be addressed at a UK level, especially on energy prices, I am pleased that this week has seen much positive news for the Tata Steel workforce.
Our work to find a sustainable future for steel, which sees the retention of production and jobs in Wales, has taken up a substantial amount of our time since Tata Steel decided to sell its UK operations. We have been working tirelessly with the company at all levels to define what packages of support can help facilitate the delivery of this transformation plan, as well as the wider investments.
Innovation and working to high environmental standards are critical to ensuring the steel industry in Wales is globally competitive and has a long term future here. Tata has therefore agreed to make South Wales one of its two main R&D sites in the UK. It will also explore the development of new products at Port Talbot. This further bolsters Wales’ position as being at the beating heart of the UK steel industry.
Whilst yesterday’s agreement reached by Tata Steel and the Trades Unions was a significant step forwards to securing long term viability of Tata’s operations in Wales, this package will support the turnaround of Tata’s operations to a more sustainable footing.
Today, I can announce the next tranche in a series of major investments as part of an ongoing programme of support to secure the long term future of the Tata Steel works in Wales. This includes £8m towards an £18m investment in the power plant which will reduce energy costs and cut carbon emissions at Port Talbot, together with plans for a new research and development base in Swansea. This support will be contingent on legally binding conditions, protecting both jobs and investment in Welsh plants, regardless of future ownership.
Yesterday, I informed Members that we had agreed with Tata Steel a £4m investment in skills across all Tata plants in Wales. We also welcomed the news that Tata Steel had reached agreement with the Trades Unions.