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British Steel planning application made for electric arc furnace

British Steel has applied for planning permission for an electric arc furnace at its Scunthorpe steelworks. The application does not indicate how many jobs will be at the site should it be approved and become operational.

In November, it announced a £1.25bn plan to scrap its blast furnaces in Scunthorpe and go for greener electric arc furnaces (EAFs). One would be built in Teeside, the other in the North Lincolnshire steelworks.

Unions have previously predicted the changes will result in the loss of 1,500 to 2,000 jobs from the Scunthorpe steelworks. The application form confirms 3,230 existing employees at the site. In “proposed employees” for after the proposed application, the form’s boxes are blank.

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The move to EAF represents a £1.25bn investment in the transformation of British Steel to achieve net zero carbon goals and ensure longer-term sustainability. In one application document, design consultants Arup succinctly state why an EAF is favoured. “From the technical perspective, EAF technology is the only solution to significantly reduce carbon emissions in a relatively short period of time whilst continuing to produce high quality steel.”

An EAF re-uses scrap steel to create new material. It reduces the demand for raw materials, but the closure of the blast furnaces in Scunthorpe will result in the UK losing the ability to make virgin steel.

The planning application is a hybrid. Full planning permission is sought for the EAF and an associated compressor building. Outline permission has been applied for ancillary plant buildings and structures up to a maximum height of 72m associated with the EAF.

Around 17 hectares of British Steel’s 795 hectare Scunthorpe site will be taken up by the EAF and associated works. It would be located towards the south-eastern corner of the site, near Anchor, Concast and Yarborough Roads within the steelworks complex.

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The EAF facility will operate 24 hours a day, seven days a week. With the building reaching a maximum height of 72m, its roofline will be stepped. It will have a gross exterior area of 48,500 sq m, while the compressor building will have an exterior area of 3,000 sq m. If granted approval, the EAF is expected to be in operation in December 2025. The blast furnaces will be kept running at least until the EAF is fully operational.

There are 25 environmental-focused documents submitted with the application, plenty running into hundreds of pages long. A ten per cent net gain in biodiversity is expected. The non-technical environmental summary makes clear local air quality is expected to improve as a result of the furnace changes. This is because of reduced greenhouse gas emissions between 2025 and 2050.

The application also reveals British Steel is reviewing transport improvements at Gate A, the steelworks’ main entrance. This is being developed in discussion with North Lincolnshire Council as the local highways authority. Another planning application on this will follow.

The planning application for the EAF in Lackenby, Teeside, was made in December. At the start of this month, trade union Unite held a ‘Steel Not For Sale’ action day, where residents put up signs in their gardens to show support for steelworkers.

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Labour’s Shadow Defence Secretary John Healey MP visited British Steel’s Scunthorpe site last weekend and called for government defence contract to procure more UK steel. In January, Conservative Party chair Richard Holden MP said talks were ongoing between the government and British Steel’s owners over a funding support package.

He also wanted disused parts of the steelworks site reclaimed. On the November day plans to close the blast furnaces in the future were confirmed, the council announced an initiative with British Steel to look into a possible advanced manufacturing park in a disused site area.

Original artice: https://www.grimsbytelegraph.co.uk/all-about/scunthorpe

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