Manufacturing organisation EEF has accused the government of greenwash over its supposed support for low carbon jobs here in the UK.
Government has often voiced its belief – notably in the budget and in the New Industry, New Jobs report – that a push towards the manufacture of green related equipment is Britain’s best route to reclaiming its position at the forefront of global manufacturing while also providing a route back to work for the 2.8m people in this country that are expected to be jobless when unemployment peaks in the summer.
At the end of last month Chancellor Alistair Darling said that government action will generate 500,000 jobs around the clean energy sector.
But EEF says actions speak louder than words and this instance action is lacking, the organisation declares. It points to the fact that just 10 per cent of the £2bn budget for Britain’s largest wind farm project – the London Array – will be spent on home soil.
The British Wind Energy Association pointed out that this largely due to a lack of capacity here. “We are starting from a very low base, or pretty much non-existent one, when it comes to turbines,” a spokesman said. However, Gareth Stace, EEF head of climate change and environmental policy, said that although “a sense of urgency” has indeed been instilled by business secretary Lord Mandelson, “it still requires a different mindset to push the boundaries of state aid like other countries do,” he said.
“In Germany you get government sitting down with business and saying, ‘this is what the targets are for renewable energy’ and ‘what do you need to provide the kind of necessary capacity?’
“We have missed the boat on onshore wind and risk doing the same offshore.”
The London Array will cover 90 square miles between Margate in Kent and Clacton in Essex. The 341 wind turbines that the farm will include will have a combined 1,000 megawatt capacity, making it the largest offshore wind farm in the world.
The site is being developed by energy firm E.ON in conjunction with an Abu-Dhabi based firm called Masdar. Siemens Energy has been given contracted for much of the construction of the turbines themselves.