Teesside's British Steel electric arc furnace has to be 'right for the taxpayer', says Badenoch

Kris Jepson speaks to Business Secretary Kemi Badenoch on her visit to Teesside.

The Business Secretary has told ITV News Tyne Tees that the government wants to build a new British Steel electric arc furnace "very quickly", but said it "has to be right for the taxpayer".

Kemi Badenoch visited the British Steel site in Lackenby on Friday 10 May and was joined by Tees Valley Mayor, Ben Houchen, and local Tory MPs, Simon Clarke and Jacob Young.

No announcement was made during the visit, but when asked why there appears to be a delay in the new electric arc furnace being built, she told ITV News the "discussions" are still ongoing with British Steel.

Steel heated in steelworks Credit: ITV News

She said: "We need to make sure that the deal we come to is one that is right for taxpayers, right for the people of Teesside, but also one that we know is going to deliver continuously for the future.

"(The government support funding) is something we are acting on. We want do this very quickly. This is a site that needs that regeneration. We're really excited about the plans to build the electric arc furnace, but we need to make sure that we get it right."

The arc furnace was granted planning permission in April, but detailed designs are yet to be finalised, raising the question of whether the £300m government support package to make it happen will be made available before the General Election.

Lord Houchen and Kemi Badenoch Credit: ITV News

When asked about comments made by Tees Valley Mayor Lord Houchen that the Prime Minister needed to control of the party who were "fighting with each other like rats in a sack", she said this was not the reason why the arc furnace build has not started yet.

She said: "No, not at all. The party is definitely united. We are committed to steel in the UK. We want to make sure that we still have steel making capability. It's part of our national resilience.

"I think the point Ben Houchen was making is correct, that parties need to be united. What we are seeing right now is, after 14 years of government, people have different opinions, but that doesn't mean that it's fighting."

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