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Offshore Wind Turbines

Volume 571: debated on Thursday 5 December 2013

10. What assessment he has made of the potential opportunities for manufacturers in onshore construction of offshore wind turbines. (901454)

In August the Government launched their offshore wind industrial strategy, which aims to build a thriving UK supply chain. Currently, there are 1,375 offshore wind turbines operational or under construction and, on average, half of the capital value of those projects comes from other parts of the supply chain in which the UK has leading expertise. Yesterday’s announcement on the electricity market reform makes clear the Government’s commitment to developing offshore wind in the UK.

I thank my right hon. Friend for that detailed reply, and I too welcome yesterday’s news, not least given the market uncertainty recently when RWE was forced, for geological reasons, to pull out of the proposed £4 billion north Devon offshore wind farm. The Minister of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, the right hon. Member for Sevenoaks (Michael Fallon), knows that I have raised the potential of the Kishorn site on the west coast of my constituency previously and yesterday’s news will give added confidence to those who are looking at the potential there, but what forms of further support might such a site be able to attract? Given the weather today, I cannot repeat my invitation to my right hon. Friend to visit, but I hope to do so in future, more clement times.

I would be delighted to visit the site, and the mountains, in my right hon. Friend’s constituency. The site to which he refers is extraordinary and in its prime, in the North sea oil boom, it built the largest mobile structure on the planet at 600,000 tonnes. It has great potential, and if this supply chain development takes place, 2,500 new jobs will be created. We want to do everything we can to make that possible, and the announcement yesterday certainly helps. He will know that the Catapult in Glasgow is working on the technology behind offshore wind developments, and we will do everything we possibly can to make sure that Kishorn and other UK ports develop on the back of that rapidly growing industry.

The Secretary of State speaks of a rapidly growing industry, but the commitment by the Government three years ago was to 40GW of offshore by 2020. The commitment yesterday was for 10GW. Why has that commitment shrunk to 25% of what it was?

The hon. Gentleman seems to have forgotten that Britain has by far the largest offshore wind industry in the world, and under the guarantees that we gave yesterday it now has the incentive to expand—and will do so, both onshore through the supply chain and offshore in the wind farms.