THE future of Newport's Orb Electrical Steels plant will be on the table today (Wednesday) at the first meeting of government, industry, and trade union officials.

The Newport steelworks – a major player in the city's industry since 1898 – was mothballed in December by owners Tata, who had originally planned to close the site outright.

Amid widespread opposition to Tata's plans, critics said the Orb was the only steelworks in the UK capable of making the specialist electrical steels needed for the coming electric car revolution.

Today's meeting will bring the firm, trade unions, and representatives from the local, Welsh, and UK governments together.

Alasdair McDiarmid, of the steelworkers' union Community, said today's meeting was "a step in the right direction".

"For government to prove they are serious about investing in our industrial communities and this country's industrial future, they must act to secure the future of the Orb,” he added.

Mr McDiarmid said he was "convinced the plant has a strategic role to play in greening our economy and supporting the industrial strategy".

Earlier this month, the UK government announced it would bring forward to 2035 a ban on sales of new petrol, diesel, and hybrid vehicles.

The ban paves the way for electric vehicles to become the norm.

"As the only UK plant capable of making the steels required for electric vehicles, Orb can support the development of a new UK-only end-to-end supply chain for electric vehicles," Mr McDiarmid said. "Government’s recent announcement that from 2035 only electric cars will be sold further strengthens the case for the Orb to be saved."

Mr McDiarmid added: "If government is serious about rebalancing the economy they need to invest in Orb, so this is a real test of government’s commitment to industrial strategy."

Newport East MP Jessica Morden, who has campaigned to save the Orb and is the new co-chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Steel, said: “I would welcome any initiatives to secure a future for steel on the site. I look forward to receiving feedback from the meeting.”