BIRFA Concerns Over Network Rail Article
BIRFA Press Release 15th November 2017
BIRFA has raised concerns over an article released on WalesOnline regarding the use of imported
reinforcing bar on a Network Rail project in Cardiff. In the article, the use of imported steel was
described by south Wales MPs Stephen Doughty and Stephen Kinnock as “an insult to British
steelworkers” and in “possible breach of central government procurement guidelines”.
Subsequently, it has come to light that the UK mill in question, CELSA, is actually manufacturing
some of its reinforcing steel products from steel bars it has imported from France and Norway.
CELSA appears to have reduced its UK steel melting output to accommodate the imports.
In a letter to both MPs in early October, BIRFA has explained the importance of imports to the
security of the fabricated reinforcement supply chain in the UK. Since 2012, the UK has only had a
single producer of the hot rolled reinforcement products, whereas previously there have been as
many as five. With the sole source highly integrated downstream into fabricated products, and thus
in direct competition with the independent fabricators, the market needs alternative sources of raw
BIRFA members would welcome an alternative domestic source. There is no intent to insult
domestic colleagues by the use of imports – but they are a necessity to ensure secure continuity of
supply to the UK construction industry. Whilst government procurement guidelines are intended to
ensure that UK mills compete with imports on a level playing field, they also recognise the need for
best-value and security of supply. BIRFA is clear that imports are not in breach of government
policy, and has asked both MPs to explain why they think they might be.
BIRFA has offered to meet both MPs to explain its concerns that UK domestic raw material
capacity for reinforcement is both insufficient and structured in a way that does not promote fair
and open competition. Unfortunately, neither MP has accepted the invitation or responded
substantively to the points BIRFA has raised.
British Independent Reinforcement Fabricators Association.
Please CLICK HERE to see the original Wales Online Article regarding the Supply of Reinforcement at Splott Road Bridge in Cardiff.