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Oil Fabrication Construction Sites

Volume 512: debated on Thursday 1 July 2010

8. What recent assessment he has made of the potential for former onshore oil fabrication construction sites to be used for construction activity relating to sustainable forms of energy; and if he will make a statement. (4942)

Many UK sites have potential for development in areas such as offshore wind, as indicated in the “UK Offshore Wind Ports Prospectus”, and for wave and tidal energy. Many of them are in Scotland, where the Scottish Government are currently taking a strategic approach to the sector.

In thanking my right hon. Friend for that reply I draw his attention to the great potential offered by the Nigg site, which is built around the largest dry dock in Europe, and, on the west coast of my constituency, the Kishorn site, which successfully contributed to massive North sea oil platform construction in days gone by. Will my right hon. Friend work as closely as possible with the Scottish Government, the Highland council and Highlands and Islands Enterprise to promote internationally the interests of those two sites?

I am very pleased to reassure my right hon. Friend that my officials have already advised me about the potential for Kishorn and Nigg, and we will be working closely with all the relevant authorities to try to create the maximum number of jobs and make sure that their potential is realised to the full.

I welcome the Secretary of State’s announcement. He was scornful about Gosplan a few moments ago, but there is a role for Government, as the right hon. Member for Ross, Skye and Lochaber (Mr Kennedy) indicated. The Secretary of State really cannot write Government out of government.

The right hon. Gentleman knows perfectly well that I am not one—nor are any of my ministerial colleagues—to write Government out of government. There is an enormous difference between the Government’s facilitating and setting a framework for the development of decisions made principally by market actors and what the hon. Member for Islington South and Finsbury (Emily Thornberry) was suggesting, which was a sectoral jobs target. I have not seen that in any economy in western Europe or any developed market economy; it has been seen only in the former plan economies.