Nick Clegg launched this latest plank of the Liberal Democrats’ economic stimulus and job creation package. The proposals would enable firms to manufacture off-shore wind turbines in the UK, instead of seeing them built abroad due to out-of-date facilities.
Current plans to expand wind farms in the North and Irish seas could see every one of the 6,400 turbines needed brought in from abroad, as there are currently no turbine manufacturers in the UK. Analysis by the One North East Regional Development Agency shows attracting wind turbine manufacturing to the region could bring economic benefits worth as much as £1.9 billion.
British ports and especially those in the North East are ideally located to host turbine manufacturers due to their proximity to the off-shore wind farms; however, they are currently unable to invest due to the lack of appropriate docks with suitable space.
The Liberal Democrat proposals to invest in physical infrastructure to support a greener economy also include a pledge to invest £100million in training and testing facilities, including at universities in the North East.
Commenting, Nick Clegg said:
“We need to make sure we come out of this recession with a rebalanced and green economy.
“Our plans would act as a huge boost for Britain’s budding wind industry and create nearly 60,000 jobs in many shipyard cities where unemployment is a huge problem.
“New off-shore turbines, with blades the size of the London Eye, need to be built and launched from modern docks, so we need to upgrade our shipyards to take advantage of this massive opportunity.
“Just imagine the docks and shipyards in the North East coming to life and leading the world in this new technology.
“Expanding off-shore wind will create jobs but unless we act now, these jobs won’t be British jobs. It’s a scandal that 90% of the £1.75bn contract for a wind farm off the coast of Kent is going to foreign contractors, with the turbines being manufactured in Germany.
“Investing in infrastructure for a new green economy not only helps create jobs now but will allow the North East to take its place at the cutting edge of this growing industrial sector for the future.
“Britain clearly has the manufacturing and engineering expertise to lead the world in this green technology but government must play its part in supporting this.”
Prospective MP for Redcar Ian Swales, who has been campaigning hard for new jobs on Teesside, said:
"This commitment by the Liberal Democrats is key to ensuring that the jobs that will be created from the development of North Sea offshore wind will be created here in the North East. This region has the skills and capacity to become the European leader in offshore wind and we must make sure that potential is realised. We desperately need some large new businesses in the area to get things moving again."