Select Committee on Trade and Industry Appendices to the Minutes of Evidence


Memorandum submitted by Corus UK Limited

Corus is the largest steel company in the UK, making some 15 million tonnes of liquid steel per annum on six sites. The steel we make is further processed and approximately 50 per cent is then sold to UK customers, either directly or via third parties. The remaining 50 per cent is exported, mostly to other European countries, with a smaller proportion going to North America and the Far East.

  Rail transport is used for 100 per cent of the bulk raw material movements, as well as for the distribution of semi-finished goods between our works; 85 per cent of finished products are distributed by road, whether for delivery to a customer in the UK or overseas.

  The taxation burden levied on road hauliers through fuel duty and vehicle excise duty is much higher, by factors of two to 12, than in other EU countries. Corus spends about £100 million per annum on UK road transport. We estimate the impact of these extra taxes when compared to what would be paid if located in Continental Europe to be some £10 million per annum.

  Corus does not support the actions of the fuel protesters as a means of achieving more competitive levels of fuel and vehicle taxation. Their action put in jeopardy continuous steel plant operations at a time when Corus is under severe financial pressure through an over-valued £ and the burden of increased levels of business taxation. However, Corus would welcome any action on the part of the Government that would reduce the pressure on us and our UK customers from uncompetitive tax levels.

  Whilst not directly part of your inquiry, Corus should be one of the main beneficiaries of any increase in gross vehicle weight limits to 44 tonnes (currently 38 to 40 tonnes). Raising gross vehicle weights to 44 tonnes could eliminate up to 85,000 annual lorry movements, saving a potential £18 million per annum and also making a significant contribution to the environment.

25 October 2000

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