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Floating Offshore Wind

Volume 748: debated on Tuesday 16 April 2024

1. What steps her Department is taking to support floating offshore wind projects in the Celtic sea. (902273)

Britain is a pioneer of floating offshore wind. We are working with the Crown Estate to lease 4.5 GW of seabed capacity for floating offshore wind in the Celtic sea, and we are supporting emerging technologies with a separate funding pot in allocation round 6.

The White Cross project in the Celtic sea has a cable due to come ashore in my constituency, and it advises me that it is unable to agree compensation to businesses disrupted by these works due to a lack of Government guidance. Will my right hon. Friend meet me—and, ideally, come to see where the project is due to make landfall—to find an alternative cable route, and if not, will she ensure that White Cross is in a position to fully compensate the businesses that will be hugely impacted if the planned cable route proceeds?

I thank my hon. Friend, who is a doughty campaigner for floating offshore wind. I am unable to comment on any specific concerns about a particular planning decision, but I am sure the relevant Minister will be happy to meet her to discuss how the Government can provide better guidance on compensation. People whose land is acquired compulsorily should not be left worse off financially, and compensation should be offered in line with the statutory compensation code.

I thank my right hon. Friend for a typically pithy question. We are doing an enormous amount to support the landscape for investments in this country that rely on equity, whether that is through full capital expensing, or, in my area of responsibility, the green industries growth accelerator.

I am sure the Secretary of State will agree that much of Britain’s energy needs could be met, and generated, offshore. Alongside floating wind power, we also have the opportunity to take advantage of tidal and marine power. Does she recognise that Britain has the second largest tidal range in the world after Canada, yet we use so little of it? To put that right, will she agree to meet me, other colleagues in this House and the northern tidal power gateway to look at how we can gain green, renewable, secure British energy from Morecambe bay?

I thank the hon. Gentleman. I have been following tidal power for many years, and he is right to point out that the UK has both a strong record in renewables and an interesting geological landscape for new renewable technologies. We have dedicated £105 million—our biggest ever budget—to the flow of emerging technologies through AR6, but I would be delighted to meet him to discuss his work further.

I thank the Secretary of State for her response. There is always a competition. As I represent Strangford, the fishing sector is very important to me. It is important that we have floating offshore wind projects, but also to ensure that fishing can be sustainable. In these discussions, can she confirm that the interests of the fishing industry and representation from the fishing industry are given appropriate weight, taking into consideration the need for sustainable fishing to continue? Without fishing my people will lose jobs.

I thank the hon. Gentleman. We are passionate supporters of the fishing industry. We continue to have conversations with the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs to ensure that we share our marine bed in an equitable way, not only getting the most out of it for our clean energy needs but protecting the fishing industry.

I am sure the Secretary of State does not want a repeat on her watch of the failure of allocation round 5, when her Department managed to crash the offshore wind market. However, the industry is already warning that the parameters set for floating wind in the next round, AR6, could mean that only one sub-gigawatt project succeeds in getting contract for difference support: way off the Government’s recently trumpeted target of 5 GW of floating offshore by 2030. What steps is she taking to ensure that we do not see another failure and lose the global race for this emerging technology?

If people want to ensure that we win the global race for renewable technology, they should, frankly, vote Conservative. Under the Conservatives, world-leading mechanisms have been introduced. The only country that has built more offshore wind capacity than the UK is China. We have an enormous and very successful track record, and continue to work with industry to ensure that AR6 will be a success.

I am not sure that answer gives much reassurance to industry or this House. The truth is that uprating our port infrastructure is critical for deploying floating offshore wind and for reaching a zero carbon power system, but Government support is so inadequate that they are funding only two ports, dropping viable projects on the way, when, according to the floating offshore wind taskforce, to reach floating offshore wind ambitions we need infrastructure upgraded in at least 11 ports. Is this not another example of the Government failing to invest for the future and failing to back British industry?

The only failure on renewable energy is the record Labour left when they were in power, when 7% of our electricity was generated from renewables whereas now that figure is 50%. On ports, not only have we got our world-leading freeport agenda but we have put forward projects such as FLOWMIS—the floating offshore wind manufacturing investment scheme—which is also helping to build our port infrastructure.

With 17 GW of floating offshore wind planned to be anchored within 100 nautical miles of Aberdeen, what steps will the Secretary of State take to ensure that technological and engineering knowledge and wherewithal and supply chain investment are also anchored within 100 miles of the north-east of Scotland?

We are doing an enormous amount of work on supply chains. We have put forward our £1 billion green industries growth accelerator fund to support British supply chains, and we are also taking steps to attract investment into this country to build British business. All of that will be positive for the Scottish offshore wind sector.