Hereford MP Paul Keetch has secured a review by the Government for a city firm concerned about the impact of the proposed Climate Change Levy on its business.

Special Metals Wiggin was fearful that the proposed tax would cost more than £300,000, but following an intervention from Mr Keetch, the Government has agreed to investigate its concerns.

Special Metals employs 900 people with some 600 other jobs dependent on the firm.

"Even the modified Government proposals could increase the company's energy bill by more than £300,000," said company secretary, Alastair Glover. "This will undermine its competitiveness which is already severely weakened by the Sterling/Euro imbalance. We are not aware of any major competitor subject to the same degree of tax."

Following representations from the company and trades union, Mr Keetch took Mr Glover and Dave Quine from AEEU to meet Patricia Hewitt MP, Minister at the Department of Trade and Industry in London.

She has agreed for an official from the Climate Change Section for the DTI to investigate Special Metals to see if they might be exempted from the proposed tax. They have already had talks with the official.

"I was happy to intercede between the Government and a company I know well," said Mr Keetch. "Wiggin's has been part of the Herefordshire industrial landscape since the Second World War. My late father worked for them for more than 20 years.

"Proposals to reduce CO2 omissions are welcomed by us all, but firms like this use high levels of energy as part of their process. Aluminium and chemical processing has been exempted by the Government, I hope that nickel might fall in the same category."

Dave Quine, the senior representative of the AEEU welcomed the involvement of Mr Keetch in arranging the meeting. He said it was 'positive and constructive'.

"The minister listened to the concerns of the delegation in the light of current trading condition," said Mr Quine. "She took a positive approach and will shortly be sending a team to Hereford to look at the case for exemption and rebate."