Recently I sent a message of protest to Ed Miliband about the loss of jobs at Vestas - this is his reply.
However, as readers of the Save Vestas blog may have noted Skykon, a company that bought one of Vestas other plants in Scotland that they were also attempting to close are putting forward different arguments about the wind turbine market in Britain, saying it is in quite good shape and that they are expanding that particular factory at the present time. He also ignored my original point about nationalisation, so I would imagine this is a standard reply that is being sent out
Thank you for your email about the Vestas factory on the Isle of Wight.
I am very sorry for the people who are losing their jobs. When I met the Vestas management a few months ago, to see how we could help, and when I have spoken to them since then, I have wanted to do all I can to try to find a solution that could help the workforce.
Vestas have made clear that the issue for them was not subsidies from government. The factory makes a different sized blade to the ones used in Britain, so each one it makes is shipped to the US. They wanted to have their production in America to cut some of that journey.
As part of global reductions in their workforce, they are not at the current time converting the Isle of Wight site to make turbines for the British market.
Their biggest difficulty is with planning objections to onshore wind turbines, which have slowed down the growth in the UK market. That is why we are reforming the planning rules and are arguing strongly that people need to see climate change as a bigger threat to the countryside than the wind turbine.
Vestas are keeping a prototype facility at the factory on the Isle of Wight and we are currently considering an application from them for support of an offshore blade testing and development facility, which will employ 150 people initially, and is expected to grow in the future.
Government policy is having a positive effect. Next year alone, the renewable electricity industry will get £1 billion of support because of government action, and the amount of power from onshore wind grew by a third last year, and the amount of offshore wind power grew by 67% - so Britain now has more offshore wind power than any other country in the world.
It is to enhance the prospects for green jobs that we have made available 120 million pounds for offshore wind manufacture in the UK and 60 million pounds for marine development. I recently visited a factory in Wales that employs 800 people and exports solar panels across Europe. The week before I saw a factory that is producing buses that produce fewer emissions, helping climate change and local air quality. Research suggest there could be half a million jobs in renewable energy by 2020.
I believe that to be ready to pursue these opportunities, we must invest in the skills, research, and the infrastructure to help clean energy companies grow – and we are making those investments.
There is government action for different industries and areas of the country, which you can read about at www.hmg.gov.uk/lowcarbon.
In the end, making sure the transition happens as quickly as possible will need government action, it will need dynamic companies, and it will also need us to win arguments around the country that renewable power should have a bigger role in the country’s future.
Thank you again for writing to me.