Nick Clegg spoke exclusively to Left Foot Forward today. He described the Liberal Democrats' new wind farm pledge as a "shot in the arm" for a green recovery.
Nick Clegg spoke exclusively to Left Foot Forward today en route to the Liberal Democrats’ new manifesto pledge on green jobs in Newcastle.
The Liberal Democrats plan to create 57,000 jobs by investing £400 million upgrading disused shipyards to enable the production of off-shore wind turbines. The party claims that the proposals would enable firms to manufacture off-shore wind turbines in the UK, instead of seeing them built abroad due to out-of-date facilities.
On the 07.00 from King’s Cross, Clegg told Left Foot Forward:
“The key thing is for this to benefit British workers and British families. We have Vestas in the Isle of Wight closing down, and ninety per cent of the production for the London Array – the world’s biggest wind turbine project – has gone abroad. Siemens has invested in a renewable energy centre in Sheffield but they are not sure if they want to set up production here. We need to remove the blockages – lack of space, access to facilities and transport to off-shore sites.
“Refurbishing seven of the ports will be a shot in the arm to increasing industry and manufacturing that will benefits regions like the North East.”
The Liberal Democrats are concerned that, under current plans to expand wind farms in the North and Irish seas, every one of the 6,400 turbines needed could be brought in from abroad, as there are currently no turbine manufacturers in the UK. They believe that British ports are ideally located to host turbine manufacturers due to their proximity to the off-shore wind farms. One quarter of the proposed budget would be spent on training and testing facilities, including at universities with specialist engineering research facilities such as Loughborough, Durham and Newcastle.
Shipyards around Europe are already benefiting from the expansion of offshore wind power. Harland & Wolff, a Belfast-based shipyard company, secured a new contract last September to build 30 wind turbines. The shipyard also constructed the Sea Gen turbine, the world’s first commercial scale tidal stream power project. It has in the past won contracts to construct turbines manufactured by Vestas.
Business Green are reporting that
“[the] new funding would form part of a proposed £3.6bn green stimulus package paid for with a range of reforms, including cuts in tax credits for higher earners, a reduction in the Highways Agency Major Improvements Budget and the introduction of a 10 per cent banking levy.”
There is concern among renewable energy experts that the Government’s industrial strategy does not address critical supply chain issues such as infrastructure, training, skills, and the need for assessment centres. The Liberal Demorats’ plans would go some way towards addressing these shortfalls.