An announcement by engineering firm, Mabey Bridge, that it will invest £38m in a Chepstow-based factory to build and paint wind turbine towers has been welcomed by BWEA Cymru.
The investment is expected to create 240 new skilled jobs in Monmouthshire. However, the trade and professional body for UK wind and marine renewables industries, BWEA Cymru, warned that the success of renewable technology manufacturing in Wales depends on onshore wind farms gaining planning permission. Wales, it says, must not squander the opportunity to establish wind energy manufacturing by continuing to frustrate planning consents for onshore wind farms.
A recent study showed that the rate of planning determination for wind farms in the country is slow, while the approval rate is patchy — during the last four years, for example, developers have had to wait an average of 21 months for decisions on planning applications. Wales is only 17% on its way to achieving its 2010 onshore wind energy targets.
Peter Lloyd, managing director of Mabey Bridge, said, “This investment goes against the grain of the decline in the manufacturing sector in the UK, and will put South Wales at the heart of the move towards a low carbon economy. Moreover, we are forecasting that production at the facility will provide around half the UK’s requirement for wind turbine towers, greatly reducing the need for developers to import.”
Said BWEA Cymru chairman, John Woodruff, “We need to see some consents for onshore projects in Wales in order to give the new factory a full order book, helping Wales keep as much of the investment as possible. It is crucial that Wales grasps the planning nettle and starts a pipeline of consented wind farm projects feeding through to this fledgling manufacturing capability. Renewables can lead the way out of the credit crunch and create real jobs and energy security, as well as huge green benefits if planners get things moving.”