Port development faces axe

Posted on 8 Oct 2010 by The Manufacturer

The Government’s £60m ports regeneration competition is likely to be cut, costing the UK up to 70,000 new jobs and three new factories building offshore wind turbines, according to a report in The Guardian.

Siemens, General Electric and Mitsubishi have all stated intentions to build factories in the UK, with Siemens and GE putting aside £180m for two of them. However, they say this is with the caveat that work is done on nearby ports to the sites.

The broadsheet newspaper says £60m put up by government for private firms to bid for is now “likely” to be scrapped.

RenewableUK – a trade organisation representing the wind and marine industry – says keeping the fund open is “absolutely essential” for attracting turbine manufacturers to the UK and pointed out that if there are no companies making them here, up to 10,000 will have to be sourced from abroad if Britain is to reach its 49gw potential.

“The potential value just of the turbines for the UK portion could run at over £50 billion,” said a RenewableUK spokesperson. “Add to this the value of port services and logistics and we are looking at a major growth driver over the next 2 decades, which could create around 60,000 to 70,000 jobs.

“In other words we could be looking at £1,000 to create 1 job, which by any measure is a bargain. The alternative is that we end up having more wind farms than any other nation, supplied and built entirely from outside the UK.

“To say that developing the offshore wind energy supply chain is a once in a generation opportunity is not an overstatement. World leading companies such as Siemens, Clipper and GE are poised to invest on the back of this fund and the developers have already signed leases. This funding is currently supported by UK ports, MPs and the public. The sector could lead the recovery, and put the country in pole position in terms of technology, employment and cash benefits from renewable energy.”

The Department of Energy and Climate Change, which is administering the ports competition, would not be drawn on whether or not the cut will occur, saying it will not respond to speculation before the upcoming spending review.

“The Government is committed to the development of UK manufacturing to support the growing offshore wind sector,” said a DECC spokesperson.

“All public spending is being reviewed in the context of the Spending Review, due on 20 October. The Spending Review process is still underway and we are therefore not in a position to discuss its outcomes.”