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Government says no to helping Coryton
10:26am Wednesday 13th June 2012 in News
THE Government will not come to the rescue of Coryton oil refinery, despite protests this week by beleaguered workers.
A band of 30-strong workers camped outside the Esso fuels terminal in Purfleet on Tuesday, preventing lorries from leaving the site for just over one hour in what was a second consecutive day of action.
At least 850 jobs are set to go at the refinery with workers saying that it is not just the refinery that is at threat, but surrounding communities, too, and they are appealing for governement intervention.
A Department for Energy and Climate Change statement has said “keeping the refinery open with public money would not achieve the aim of securing a sustainable future for the plant”.
The Department also cites overcapacity in the European refinery business as the key reason why it would not be sensible for taxpayers’ money to be spent on the refinery.
It is believed the Government would need to invest £150million to make the plant more attractive to a buyer.
That equates to around £200,000 per worker at risk of losing their job. The plant also costs approximately £1million per day to run.
A letter seen by the Gazette, which was sent by DECC minister Charlie Hendry to shadow energy secretary Caroline Flint, also reveals it is unclear what state aid was provided by the French government after it saved a refinery there. The letter also claims providing state aid to Coryton may not comply with EU rules.
Polly Billington, Labour parliamentary candidate for Thurrock, was among those who met workers on Monday.
Speaking at Tuesday’s rally Russ Ball, Unite represenative for Coryton workers, said by issuing a statement it meant the DECC had taken notice of the workers’ frustrations.
He said: “We’re trying to force the Government into negotiations. This isn’t about disruption or greed, this is about trying to save a refinery and a community.
“We’re fighting for a community and fighting the only way we know how and using the only tools at our disposal.”
Mr Ball also said there might be fuel shortages this week as refining at Coryton finished at 11.59pm on Tuesday, with no oil going in or fuel coming out.
The DECC statement said: “We have spoken to fuel suppliers who use Coryton and they have reassured us they are making alternative arrangements, so we do not envisage any disruption to the supply of fuel to the south east.
“We understand the disappointment workers at Coryton feel, but we are unclear if the demonstrations will do anything to help the situation.”