Dutch MPs back subsidising the planned Tata Steel clean up

The Tata Steel overshadows the beach. Photo: DutchNews.nl

MPs have backed plans to give subsidies to Tata Steel to help pay for energy efficiency and counter-pollution measures, but are divided on what conditions should apply.

Parliament debated the future of the IJmuiden steelworks on Tuesday evening, amid a backdrop of court cases and health fears. During the debate, it became clear there is widespread support to keep the company in the Netherlands, but that much needs to be done to protect the health of people living near the plant.

Economic affairs minister Micky Adriaansens said during the debate she hoped to reach agreement with Tata Steel this year on what conditions should apply in return for state support, and asked MPs to provide a “mandate, not to dictate” about what these should be.

The GroenLinks-PvdA alliance, for example, says subsidies should only be given once health experts have assessed the plans, while the NSC says Tata Steel should also raise funding via the banks and other sources. D66 wants the plant’s coal storage depot to be covered over within two years.

Parliament will have to approve any agreement which is reached.

Earlier on Tuesday it emerged that a third court case focusing on the health impact of the steel plant is currently being put together.

In March, the Financieele Dagblad reported that the government is considering injecting up to €3 billion into reducing the environmental impact of the Tata plant, following calculations by an advisory committee.  

The two-man committee looked at five scenarios to deal with the problems caused by the steelworks, ranging from closing the plant to opening a completely new factory. For example, should Tata close, it will cost some €12 billion to clean the polluted ground and €1 billion in social costs such as unemployment benefits. Forcing the plant to close would cost €16 billion.

Tata Steel’s own plan to go green – which ministers prefer – will require between €500 million and €2 billion by 2030, but that will cost more if the deadline for change is brought forward from 2030.

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