THE closure of Newport's Orb Electrical Steels plant "would be a travesty", MPs have heard.

Tata announced on Monday, September 2, that it proposes to close the Orb works, which employs around 380 people.

And Newport East MP Jessica Morden led a debate on the issue in Parliament on Tuesday, where she called on the UK Government to step in to resuce the plant from closure.


“This is a plant that with investment and support could and should have a bright future," she said. "Especially with the growth of electrical vehicle and electrification generally, demand for this type of steel will only grow.

“It would be a travesty if we were going to lose this. My ask of ministers, would be that the government do all they can with Tata to protect this national interest."

Ms Morden spoke of how the news of the closure had been "devastating to the workforce, many of whom were highly skilled and had worked for the company for many years,

“Today isn’t about nostalgia, it is about the future," she continued. "It is about calling on the government to ensure a future for a plant with enormous potential at a time when the demand for the type of steel should and could be set to grow.

South Wales Argus:

Jessica Morden

“The government has said the electrical vehicle industry is important to the government.

“In fact the prime minister spoke about his vision for the UK as a home for the electrical vehicles.

“In a recent response to a question I asked, the prime minister also stated his commitment to using UK steel in the supply chain.

“But we need electrical steel – if the prime minister is really serious as a home for electrical vehicles then we must consider the Orb a national asset.

“The demand for this type of steel is expected to grow ten-fold by 2030."


Ms Morden continued by saying that if the Orb works is not kept open, the potential to build a supply chain would be squandered.

“It is not an overstatement to say the UK could lose its capacity to be a global leader in electric car manufacturing," she said.

"Newport, Wales and the UK will be worse off if the government fails to work with Tata to grasp its enormous potential before it is too late."

Kevin John Foster, MP for Torbay said, in response to Ms Morden's opening speech: "“The government has worked with Tata to seek possible solutions.

"This was a commercial decision – the orb plant has been on sale for two years."

Newport West MP Ruth Jones replied to Mr Foster, saying: "But does he not agree with me that surely closing the only electrical steel plant in the UK is not joined-up thinking?"

South Wales Argus:

Ruth Jones

To which Mr Foster responded: "The steel industry is an important industry in Wales."

Representatives of the Community steel union, who work at the Orb plant, attended Parliament today to listen to the debate.

Speaking in response, Alasdair McDiarmid, operations director for Community, said: “If we’re serious about going zero carbon then closing our only electrical steels plant is madness.

"We welcome the fact that MPs made this clear to the government's representative during today's debate. We cannot let the Orb close and we have a credible, alternative plan based on making steels for electric vehicles and creating a new Wales-only supply chain.

"But saving the Orb will require public support and we were pleased to hear that the government is willing to meet us to hear our plan. We hope this can happen soon."

A march in support of keeping the facility open will be held on Saturday October 12.