SCOTLAND’S last remaining steelworks have been saved from closure after the Scottish Government sealed a deal with international metals firm Liberty House.

The First Minister expressed her delight at the sale of the mothballed Dalzell and Clydebridge Tata Steel plants in Lanarkshire after months of hard work and negotiation by the Scottish Steel Task Force – led by Business Minister Fergus Ewing – to secure their future.

The agreement involves the Scottish Government buying the facilities from Tata and immediately selling them on to Liberty. The sale will be made under the same terms with no cost to the taxpayer.

Liberty will take responsibility for reopening, operating and investing in the two sites as its attempts to build a sustainable UK steel business.

The deal is understood to have been structured to avoid the lengthy due diligence process required for a transaction between two companies and the fee for the plants could be as little as a £1 as Liberty House will take on the works’ environmental costs and invest in them. Nicola Sturgeon said: “I’m absolutely delighted that this deal has been sealed today – bringing to an end months of anguish and uncertainty for communities in Motherwell and Cambuslang.

“The concerted efforts of the Scottish Government, trade unions, the workforce and the companies themselves have paid off – and I would like to sincerely thank all of those involved for their patience and persistence over the last few months.

“In times gone by, Scotland’s iconic industries were left to wither and die by distant Westminster Governments – but as long as I am First Minister, I will always stand stronger for jobs in Scotland.”

A task force was set up in October after Tata Steel announced it would close both Scottish plants with the loss of 270 jobs.

Ewing said: “When Tata Steel mothballed the Dalzell and Clydebridge plants, I said we would leave no stone unturned in the quest to find an alternative buyer. That is why we established a Scottish steel task force and why I am delighted that our support for the steel industry has paid off.

“Liberty has a proven track record in the UK steel industry and has ambitions to make these plants viable and successful.

“It’s a huge tribute to the calibre of the highly skilled workforce, and the efforts of everyone on the Task Force that Liberty recognise the tremendous potential of Scottish steel.”

The SNP’s Clare Adamson, candidate for Motherwell and Wishaw, who was on the task force, said the news was “wonderful”.

She added: “This is wonderful news for Lanarkshire – testament to the hard work of all those involved who refused to give up on these plants. Lanarkshire’s steel industry is iconic not just locally but right across Scotland. I sincerely hope that this news will mean Lanarkshire’s furnaces will continue to burn for some time to come.”

Liberty House is not expected to employ all 270 of the plants’ staff immediately but plans to increase the workforce back to former levels over time. Sanjeev Gupta, Liberty House’s executive chairman, has vowed to build a profitable steel business in the UK despite the industry being in trouble. He said the two Lanarkshire steel mills would help Liberty House reach that goal.

Gupta said: “This agreement saves two great facilities in Scotland. Now we must turn our attention to restoring these businesses to their former glory, steadily rebuilding their skilled workforces and customer base.

“Clydebridge and Dalzell will fit well into our vision for an integrated, flexible and sustainable steel sector, from recycled local scrap using renewable energy making green steel, to value-added downstream and engineered products.”

Gupta has said he plans to increase his UK workforce from 1,500 to as much as 5,000, if the Government puts in place the right conditions to allow investment in steelworks.

He wants to buy old plants that once made steel from raw materials and convert them to recycle scrap steel into products for use by engineering businesses.

Roy Rickhuss, the general secretary of the steelworkers’ union Community, which has been heavily involved the task force, said: “This is extremely welcome news and what everyone involved in the task force have been working towards.

“In particular, I want to pay tribute to Community’s local reps and all they have done to get us to this point.”

He added: “The signing of this agreement is the first step towards restoring jobs and resuming production but there are still many steps to be taken.”