British Steel may have to lay off hundreds of workers at its engineering steels plant in Rotherham because of a proposed European environmental directive that would stop car manufacturers using lead in steel.
The directive is being introduced to force EU states to recycle and scrap old cars. However, provisions in the directive would preclude car makers from using leaded steels, putting thousands of EU steel jobs at risk.
Eurofer, the European steel producers’ association, said such a ban would be pointless as lead cannot escape during recycling. It added that if car makers stopped using leaded steel, their machining costs would rise by about £160m a year, while energy consumption and associated greenhouse gas emissions would also rise.
A British Steel executive recently told MEPs a ban on leaded steels could jeopardise hundreds of UK jobs.