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Offshore Wind Energy

Volume 703: debated on Tuesday 16 November 2021

The Government recently announced £380 million for our world-leading offshore wind sector, which is boosting jobs and investment across the UK. My hon. Friend will know that the allocation round 4 opens in December, and we are very much looking forward to the bids in that round.

The House has often heard me talk about Blyth Valley being at the heart of the green industrial revolution. Catapult, in the Port of Blyth, has tested the largest windmill blades in the world for years. We need to continue to be at the forefront of blade testing, to hold our No. 1 position on the global stage. Will my right hon. Friend agree to meet me and the management team from Catapult to make sure that we continue to lead in the race to a greener future?

I would be delighted to see my hon. Friend and the great people who are working on the Offshore Renewable Energy Catapult in Blyth. It is a fantastic development and the people working there will surely allow us to hit the 40 GW target for offshore wind in 2030.

As the Secretary of State knows, Great Grimsby is the UK’s largest centre for offshore wind operations and maintenance. The £160 million announcement for floating offshore wind was very welcome. Does he believe that the time is right to increase our ambitions for that power supply to above 1 GW, which would increase investors’ confidence?

I am delighted to see my hon. Friend, who I accompanied in her constituency shortly after her stunning victory in 2019. She will know that I and the Department are fully committed to ensuring that we have increased ambitions. We are always looking to increase our ambitions.

I welcome what the Secretary of State says about wind power—we are proud in Cumbria to be at the heart of offshore wind—but does that not contrast negatively with the Government still sitting on the fence about commissioning a new coalmine in west Cumbria? Given the incredibly disappointing outcome on coal from COP26, is this not a moment for the UK Government to take a lead and say that the coalmine will not open?

First, the hon. Gentleman will understand that the coalmine is a matter of an independent planning decision. Secondly, I completely deny his assertion that somehow COP26 was a failure. It was not. It was a great success, thanks to the COP26 President, my right hon. Friend the Member for Reading West (Alok Sharma). Huge commitments were made, which everyone is supporting.

Tapadh leibh. Scotland’s offshore islands could produce as much energy each day as some EU countries are sending to the United Kingdom. When will we see contract for difference levels match interconnector requirements? The Secretary of State knows about this subject. Will that come soon, especially for the Hebrides? I say gently to him that, as he knows, probably no other country in Europe would be squandering this opportunity.

The hon. Gentleman knows that I am fully committed to remote island wind. In fact, when I was Energy Minister, I spearheaded the move to have a separate pot for renewable island wind. He lobbied successfully, and I am happy to speak to him about that at any time of his choosing.

Does my right hon. Friend agree that the recent comprehensive spending review and Budget announcement shows that the Government are delivering an historic increase in R&D investment to build back better with a high skill and wage economy for all of the UK? That is very much reflected in NETPark in Sedgefield, which he had the pleasure of visiting recently.

I was delighted to see my hon. Friend in his constituency and to see the wonderful businesses that he is promoting. He will know that the CSR is fully committed to driving our science superpower status through unprecedented investment.