Energy trade association Renewable UK has launched a national campaign to highlight the importance of investing in improvements to the UK’s port facilities.
The previous government pledged £60m towards upgrading the infrastructure around ports to enable wind turbine manufacturing in this country, crucial for delivering Round 3 offshore wind projects.
However, the fund could now be scrapped as part of the Coalition’s Spending Review in October and Renewable UK is warning that this could mean the UK loses out on 50,000 new jobs as manufacturers look to base their offshore wind operations outside the UK.
The campaign has received cross-party support from the former Liberal Democrat leader Charles Kennedy, Labour MP Alan Whitehead and the Conservative MP Peter Aldous, who have co-sponsored an Early Day Motion in the House of Commons on the subject this week.
Greenpeace has also joined the campaign, raising awareness of the issue to its membership and encouraging activists to lobby their local MPs in affected areas.
Renewable UK has stressed that decisions on new port infrastructure must be taken in the next six to 12 months if the UK is to take advantage of the manufacturing and supply-chain opportunities offered by the Round 3 projects.
Dr Gordon Edge, director of policy at Renewable UK, said: ’We are urging the government to make the important distinction between current spending and investment, as the infrastructure spending will ultimately deliver mass employment and business benefits at a local and regional level. We are looking at 50,000 jobs in wind turbine and component manufacturing over the next decade.’
After the last government’s announcement of the Offshore Wind Infrastructure Fund, Siemens and GE followed with their own announcements committing to a UK manufacturing presence.
The UK currently has more offshore wind installed, in construction and planned than any other country in the world. The trade association said that, with the right investment, the sector is expected to grow significantly over the coming years and, by 2030, Britain could have nearly 50GW of installed offshore wind capacity.