Business, union and NGO coalition warns Gov't over ports cuts threat to '50,000 green collar jobs'

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•18 senior figures sign up to open letter calling on Government to retain funding for UK ports

•Funding crucial for attracting offshore wind farm manufacturing

A coalition of senior business and union leaders, MPs and environmental campaigners has signed an open letter to Treasury Chief Secretary Danny Alexander MP calling on the Government to retain £60 million of funding for UK ports. The letter highlights the need to support UK ports competing to access funds ahead of the next round of UK offshore wind developments. Specifically, it states that offshore wind energy manufacturing has the potential “to create up to 50,000 UK based green collar jobs”.

The coalition of 15 groups and three MPs, which has been pulled together by industry trade body RenewableUK includes the European CEOs of two of the world’s largest manufacturing companies, General Electric and Siemens, who have both pledged to open factories in the UK on the back of the funding, as well as the TUC General Secretary and the Executive Director of Greenpeace.

The letter has cross-party political backing with sign-up by the Conservative Commons Energy Select Committee Chairman Tim Yeo MP and former Lib Dem Leader Charles Kennedy MP. Its release comes ahead of an emergency debate in the Commons on the funding today, which has been called by letter signatory Alan Whitehead MP, Chair of cross-party Parliamentary Renewable and Sustainable Energy Group.

Mark Elborne, CEO and President of GE UK commented:

“We believe the UK has a unique opportunity to become a global centre of excellence in the offshore wind sector. The UK’s substantial natural wind resources provide an attractive investment opportunity for global companies. Government funding and the development of a suitable port infrastructure are critical if we are to locate our offshore wind manufacturing operations here in the UK. We believe that offshore wind offers the UK market a significant opportunity to create jobs for UK employees and to contribute to future economic growth in what will be a highly competitive global marketplace.”

Brendan Barber, TUC General Secretary, said:

“More than 50,000 skilled jobs are at stake to construct and service wind farms in the North Sea. Upgrading our port facilities is a vital piece in the jigsaw of investments for the North East to build and ship massive wind turbines out to the North Sea. Making cuts in the £60m Offshore Wind Development Competition would be a huge mistake. Our competitors across the North Sea are watching this decision and know that huge employment opportunities may come their way if the UK Government makes the wrong move.”

Maria McCaffery MBE, RenewableUK Chief Executive, said:

“Taking into account demand over the next two decades, potential UK based manufacturers could supply 10,000+ turbines, not just to UK projects but to other countries such as Germany pursuing their own ambitious offshore wind plans in the North Sea. Together with the value of port logistics this could create over £50 billion for the UK economy, presenting us with a once in a generation opportunity to create employment and business benefits from in a cutting edge energy sector.”

Speaking earlier this week, Energy Select Committee Chair, Tim Yeo MP said:

“Reducing spending on low carbon technology would be like cutting the budget for spitfires in 1939”.

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