Vestas has formally announced the closure of its blade production activities in the Isle of Wight and Southampton, leading to the loss of 425 jobs.
The decision was made as a result of a consultation process announced in April involving the potential reduction of production capacity in northern Europe following increased manufacturing capacity in the US.
In a statement, the group said: ‘It does not make sense, from an environmental and cost perspective, to ship turbines overseas instead of providing them locally. Unfortunately, demand in the northern European market cannot absorb the excess capacity.’
Previously, blades manufactured on the Isle of Wight were shipped to the US. However, plans to convert production at the factory to a blade type that was more suitable for the UK market were scrapped due to poor market conditions and lack of local government support.
Ole Borup Jakobsen, president of Vestas Blades, said: ‘This commercial decision was absolutely necessary to secure Vestas’ competitiveness and create a regional balance between production and the demand for wind turbines.’
Despite favourable wind conditions in the UK, the group said that local planning procedures were a significant obstacle to the development of onshore wind-power plants. However, it confirmed the expansion of its research-and-development activities on the Isle of Wight following the announcement of a new blade technology centre scheduled to open in 2011.
According to the group, the centre will be capable of designing, manufacturing prototypes and testing the world’s largest wind-turbine blades. Currently, the site employs 110 staff, however, this is expected to grow to 150 by the end of the year.