A CEMENT-making firm is having to import cement from less efficient plants in Germany and Ireland because it is being taxed too heavily to make it in Tilbury.

Cemex opened its £49million production plant at the port to great fanfare in 2009.

It is capable of producing 1.2million tonnes of cement each year, using 20 to 40 per cent less energy than traditional mills.

But high carbon costs, recommended by the European Union and adopted by the UK, mean it is cheaper for Cemex to import cement from plants elsewhere in the union, in countries such as Germany and Ireland, where governments have decided not to impose such high taxes on energy.

East of England MEP Vicky Ford has called this “a complete waste of energy” and demanded “a level playing field” for UK businesses.

After being shown around the impressive Tilbury facility, she said: “This is Cemex, the most productive and efficient plant in the world, and given that it operates in 50 countries this makes the Tilbury operation impressive.

“However, it is only operating at 20 per cent of capacity because of the high cost of electricity as well as energy and carbon taxes.

“This means cement is being imported from other countries, a complete waste of energy.

“Part of the problem is caused by the EU trying to get ahead of the rest of the world in energy and carbon policies, another problem is the way the UK carbon tax is structured compared to other European countries.

“I think we need to have a level playing field for companies like Cemex.

“I will be campaigning in Brussels for the EU to look again at its policies on carbon leakage.”

Gavin Cowan, the Tilbury plant director, said the plant is only used at night, as that is when electricty is cheapest, adding: “Most cement production plants operate at 70 kilo watt hours per tonne of cement produced, whereas this one in Tilbury operates at 29 kilo watt hours per tonne.

“There is a 3p per kilo watt an hour difference in cost between using the plant at night and during the day.”

Thurrock MP Jackie Doyle-Price, who was contacted by Cemex to bring up the issue at Westminster, believes there has been too much focus on green energy credentials in the past.

She said: “Green energy is all fair and well, but it’s when green credentials start effecting our economy and our jobs that it’s time to fix it.”