Wales

Steel firm Liberty's manufacturing centre plan

A wind turbine tower in the Mabey Bridge factory Image copyright Mabey Bridge
Image caption Mabey Bridge opened a factory to build towers for wind turbines in 2011

A steel firm has bought equipment left over after a Monmouthshire renewable energy factory closed down, with a view to creating a new manufacturing centre.

Liberty Group bought equipment used by Mabey Bridge in Chepstow to make steel towers for wind turbines.

It is now deciding where to base its centre.

The firm would not comment on the possible location, but it is understood it is keen to stay in the area because the skills are still available.

Liberty Group, which owns steelworks and a power station in Newport, is looking to supply masts for the offshore wind sector, pylons for the National Grid and turbine casings for Tidal Lagoon Power, if the Swansea Bay Tidal Lagoon goes ahead.

Mabey Bridge's Chepstow site closed in September 2015 but Liberty described its equipment as "state of the art".

The steel it would use in production would come from two steelworks in Scotland Liberty recently bought from Tata and the manufacturing centre would employ about 100 skilled engineers.

Image copyright Reuters

Liberty's executive chairman Sanjeev Gupta said: "Our aim is to create a world class centre for the production of tubular towers and other large scale steel fabrication.

"Most of these products are currently imported, so there is great potential to substitute this with our own production of best in class and competitive British towers."

In the long term, Liberty hopes tidal energy will take off in the Severn Estuary; The sector is waiting for the outcome of the independent review of tidal lagoons, chaired by Charles Hendry, due to be completed in the autumn.

If it supports the development of the industry and the Swansea Bay Tidal Lagoon goes ahead, proposals for a tidal lagoon in Cardiff will progress quickly, closely followed by plans for one in Colwyn Bay, Conwy.

Liberty's sister company, SIMEC, is a major investor in Tidal Lagoon Power, the company behind Swansea Bay Tidal Lagoon.

Mr Gupta said: "It is particularly appropriate that this new business will supply the renewable energy market in view of our own green steel strategy, which involves investing in green energy as the basis of a competitive UK steel and engineering industry."

There no timescale for when the final decision on the location will be made.

The best result for the Welsh economy would be if it was based in Wales, employing staff who used to work for Mabey Bridge and using steel made in Wales.

In the long term, it could both supply steel casings for tidal turbines and use renewable energy generation from tidal lagoons.

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