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Offshore Wind Sector

Volume 741: debated on Tuesday 28 November 2023

12. What recent discussions she has had with Cabinet colleagues on support for workers in the offshore wind sector. (900342)

This Government are proud to have made the UK a global leader in offshore wind, and the industry believes that UK jobs in the sector will rise from the current 30,000-plus to 100,000-plus by 2030—if, of course, Conservative stewardship continues.

Jobs for whom? That is the question. We have already seen the shameful situation of UK seafarers who work in the offshore wind sector being laid off, to be replaced by low-wage, exploited migrant labour. As the sector develops, as we see people go out to work on the turbines for longer and as we see the building of floating accommodation for them to stay on, there is a huge risk that those workers—not just those on the supply ships—will also face exploitation. Will the Minister work with Cabinet colleagues to ensure that the national minimum wage applies in the offshore sector beyond the 12-mile territorial limit? That is the solution to protect our workers, and those from abroad, from being exploited.

I thank the hon. Gentleman for his question, and I share his enthusiasm for making sure that we continue the development of good, well-paid jobs, and the development of the skills required to help people access those jobs, and that we do not have exploitation onshore or offshore during that development. It is a huge opportunity for the United Kingdom and for Scotland. Working together, I am sure we can develop it.

As we know from the excellent Rampion wind farm in Sussex bay—hopefully it will soon be expanded—offshore wind farms support workers not just in energy production but in tourism, fishing and leisure too. This year we celebrate 50 years of the Protection of Wrecks Act 1973. It is estimated that there are more than 6,000 wrecks around the UK coast, but only 57 of them are listed, so will my right hon. Friend speak to his colleagues in the Department for Culture, Media and Sport about how we can co-ordinate activity between new wind farms and marine archaeologists so that we can boost both our efforts to combat climate change and our cultural protection, which will give particular assistance to coastal communities?

As ever, my hon. Friend puts his finger on an important point. Existing assets such as wrecks have so many uses, all of which need to be understood. Our seas look so large, but they have multiple uses for shipping, defence and energy. We are working to ensure that we have a strategic, joined-up energy plan and a spatial strategy so that wrecks, marine protected areas and other interests can all be protected in an integrated manner.