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Offshore Wind Power

Volume 566: debated on Thursday 11 July 2013

4. What estimate he has made of the number of jobs created in the UK as a consequence of his policies on offshore wind power generation. (164482)

The trade association RenewableUK last year estimated that the wind industry as a whole currently employs around 12,200 people in Britain. As we announced in May this year, since 2010 more than £29 billion of investment has been announced in renewable energy, with the potential to support around 30,000 jobs. Of that, nearly £18 billion and more than 9,000 jobs relate to offshore wind.

I welcome the Minister’s recent visit to the north banks of the Tyne where he saw the employment potential of that exciting new industry. The fabrication work that could be generated, were contracts placed domestically in the United Kingdom, would represent an exciting opportunity for former shipbuilding communities such as the one I represent, which has the skills and energy to do the work, if it could get the contracts. What more can the Minister do to ensure that at least some of that work comes to the United Kingdom?

I have provided at least two regional growth fund grants to yards on the Tyne, and I have visited two of them myself. Tyneside already contributes to future energy infrastructure development. It is becoming a leader in sub-sea technology. I want to ensure that it also benefits from the new generation of offshore wind that is now coming on stream.

This is my first opportunity to welcome the Minister to his portfolio—and a very welcome presence he is too—so may I tempt him with some highland hospitality? The Secretary of State will confirm that it can be very good. I invite the Minister to pay a visit to Kishorn Port Ltd in my constituency, which began with the concept of manufacturing offshore wind turbines and has submitted—and now had approved—a master plan with Highland council, the diaspora of which could see 2,500 jobs being created on that site. That would be a massive boost to the economy of the highlands, Scotland and the United Kingdom. Would he care to pay a visit, perhaps during the recess?

I will certainly see whether that is possible. I am already aware of—how can I put it—the power of Skye hospitality, and I would certainly like to see for myself exactly the potential for Skye to contribute to the offshore wind power that we need.

I, too, represent a former shipbuilding community. I believe that Inverclyde has the skills and the infrastructure to play a full part in offshore wind generation. In that context, I have a meeting next Tuesday with RenewableUK. I extend an invitation to the Minister or the Secretary of State to attend that meeting with me and help to promote Inverclyde in playing a full part in that wind power generation.

Our diaries are filling up. I want our shipyards to reap the full benefit of the work that is now becoming available in offshore wind. I saw for myself recently on a visit to Cammell Laird on Merseyside just how much of that yard’s work now contributes to the Gwynt y Môr field in the Irish sea, and I am sure that there are opportunities for the Clyde as well.