Is there a future in UK heavy industry?

Just heard a discussion on Radio Scotland regarding the sad closure of the steel plants in Motherwell and Cambuslang. An American from the University of Strathclyde made the point that these industries are dead and we should let them close, leaving them to the Chinese and Indians. This is crazy. As a country we need to hold on to our critical industries.

We need quality steel for the oil industry and, as offshore renewables have the potential to become a major UK industry, our use of steel is not likely to reduce. We’re making more cars in this country than ever before, many of which require special high strength steels. Chinese steels are of such low quality that the oil and gas industry can’t use them.

When we lose our ability to make our own steel we will never get it back and will rely on foreign imports from that point on.

One reason why the Chinese can undercut the Europeans is that they don’t have the same environmental restrictions as we do. In short their steel is filthy and is causing huge environmental damage to the steelmaking areas of China. We are allowing them to kill our domestic industries by dumping millions of tonnes of low quality steel, the production of which has had a horrific effect on the environment. It’s hardly a fair fight is it?

One guy on Radio Scotland made a great point that in the 1970’s when Rolls Royce went bust, rather than close the factories, the Government stepped in and financed them until they finished the development of their new jet engine family. This became a massive success and as a result we still have aero industry in this country with tens of thousands of highly paid jobs and Rolls Royce is a word leader the world in the production of modern jet engines.

Seeing the bigger picture is what Government is supposed to do. Finland, Italy and France still have huge shipbuilding industries because they invested in new technology and that investment has been paid back many times over.

Heavy industry is not industry of the past. It has a future in the rest of the world, why not here?