'Gov't intervention is key to meeting climate emergency challenges'

Unite welcomes gov’t investment in offshore wind projects in Humber and Teesside but says much more must be done

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Unite has welcomed new green investment, but said much more must be done to bring forward a green industrial revolution, after prime minister Boris Johnson today (March 11) announced £95m in funding to build offshore wind projects in Teesside and Humberside.

Of the funding announced today by the prime minister, £75m will go to the development of the Able Marine Energy Park, on the south side of the Humber, with an additional £20m going to the Teesworks Offshore Manufacturing Centre on the Tees.

The two new ports, both being developed by Able UK, will be able to house seven manufacturers to build the next generation of offshore wind projects. The ports are estimated to generate up to 6,000 jobs. Construction is set to begin later this year.

 Making the announcement, Johnson said, “During the Industrial Revolution over 200 years ago, wind-powered the sails of ships from the Humber and Teesside trading goods around the world.”

“Now the Humber and Teesside will put the wind in the sails of our new green industrial revolution, building the next generation of offshore wind turbines whilst creating 6,000 new green jobs in the process,” he added.

“Our multi-million-pound investment in these historic coastal communities is a major step towards producing the clean, cheap energy we need to power our homes and economy without damaging the environment.”

The first of the seven firms to be housed in the ports will be GE Renewable Energy, which has confirmed that it plans to manufacture wind turbine blades at Teesworks.

GE said it plans to begin producing the blades by 2023, with the project estimated to create 750 direct jobs and a further 1,500 in the wider supply chain. The blades will be manufactured for the Dogger Bank project off the coast of Yorkshire which, when completed in 2026, will be the UK’s biggest offshore wind farm, producing enough energy to power six million UK homes.

While Unite welcomed the funding announcement, the union said that much more must be done to support all regions across the UK, and that more wind technology must be manufactured in the UK instead of off-shored as has historically been the case.

Commenting, Unite assistant general secretary Steve Turner said, “We welcome government support and investment, however late and long overdue, to manufacture the products we need to green our environment here in the UK.

“It’s a national disgrace that not a single turbine or blade powering Europe’s largest off-shore wind farms off the UK coastline have been manufactured here,” he added. “In fact, hundreds of good jobs and skills, like those at BiFab in Scotland have been lost while we imported off-shore technology from overseas.

“While much more needs to be done to support all of our regions, not simply Tory MP’s sitting in battleground seats, the jobs will be very welcome as will the signal that perhaps finally we are seeing a government realisation that intervention is key to meeting the challenges of the climate emergency,” Turner went on to say.

The government’s announcement comes hot on the heels of Unite’s publication of its Plan for Jobs in UK Manufacturing, produced in consultation with Acuity Analysis, which sets out seven projects that are best placed to create jobs now and assist the UK in meeting its climate change obligations.

Among these ‘magnificent seven’ projects is offshore wind. Unite has highlighted how doubling the number of UK wind turbines by 2024 would create 13,000 jobs by 2024. By 2030, 27,000 jobs could be created, rising to 80,000 by 2054, while pushing on with hydro, solar and nuclear plans for a balanced green energy policy.

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